Most people visit a doctor’s office because they have a problem that needs fixing. The solutions offered will vary depending on what kind of doctor they seek. I find a majority of patients are already relatively well-informed about what they should or shouldn’t be doing regarding lifestyle habits, when it comes to health concerns. The trouble is staying committed. Examples: “eat better, exercise more”, “remember to take all my supplements”, “meditate regularly”, etc.

It’s easy to talk about the issue(s) that’s brought one in, we have no shortage of concerns or things to work on. However, when the conversation changes to problem-solving and framing them as goals to improve compliance, the room tends to go quiet. How many of us reflect on what’s really at stake and what we could gain by evolving beyond our excuses?

I wanted to talk about goal-setting as I myself have continued to use the “no time” excuse, even during the pandemic that has forcibly made us all (not on the front lines) slow down. While I have more time and less distractions than I’ve had in decades, my productivity has almost halted. Dr. Jeff’s talk on the power of habits and routines woke me up. I started setting small goals for myself and planning for the future again, despite the uncertainty.

“Life is about change, but growth is optional.” – Bruce Lee

The only thing that stops change is death; until then, how we change is up to us. I personally don’t believe that someone is ever “too old to change”. Someone who says this has probably tried to change and failed, and it’s important to reflect on why. Once you’ve established that you want to grow, the following questions can be personalized with any goal or change you want to tackle:

  1. Why do you want to grow???
    On a scale of 0 to 10 (10 being the highest):
  2. How much do you want to grow? 0  1 2  3 4 5  6 7 8 9  10
  3. What is your willingness to grow? 0  1 2  3 4 5  6 7 8 9  10
  4. How successful do you think you’ll be in growing? 0  1 2  3 4 5  6 7 8 9  10

If any of these numbers are below 6 or highly mixed, investigate why. Are there internal (e.g., self-satisfaction) or external (e.g., a reward, punishment) motivating factors or both? Successful people tend to be clear about their objectives, cognisant of the bigger picture, and self-accountable.

“If you fail to plan, you are preparing to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin

Sometimes we “get lucky” and fortune is on our side, but luck is finite. There’s no guarantee that planning will prevent failure, but it certainly increases your chance of success.

“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”. – Wayne Gretzky

You can’t succeed unless you try and practice failing (a lot). It’s estimated to take 10,000 hours to become great at something, that’s 6-10 years depending on skill and other factors! Further, it takes closer to 66 days for new habits to gel–older research suggested only 21days.

Work smarter not harder…Make S-M-A-R-T goals

S – specific

What do you want to accomplish?
Why do you want to accomplish this?
What are the requirements and constraints?

M – measurable

How will you measure your progress?
How will you know when the goal is achieved?

A – attainable

How can the goal be achieved?
What are the logical steps you need to take?

R – relevant

Is this a worthwhile goal?
Is this the right time to pursue it?
Do you have the resources to achieve it?
Is this goal in line with your long-term goals or vision for your future?

T – time-bound

How long will it take to achieve this goal?
When is it that you will complete this goal? Be as specific as possible.
When are you going to work on this goal?

After you’ve set your SMART goals, it’s equally important to write them down and make a vision statement displaying them in plain sight. A vision board also works, if you’re feeling creative. Regularly review and update goals so they stay relevant. You (or your circumstances) may change before the dates you set to complete them. Also, don’t be shy or afraid of failing before you even start — proudly share with people who care about you, so they can cheer you on and help celebrate your accomplishments! Why wait until you’ve checked it off? Recruiting others also keeps you accountable. You may even find people who have the same / similar goals they’re working on.

Get ready – ENVISION
Get set – PLAN