Setting Goals

Now that it is the beginning of a new year, many people decide to declare their "resolutions" for the upcoming year. You may be familiar with some of them:

  • I will exercise more.
  • I will finally lose that weight.
  • I will stop smoking.
  • I will cut back on my alcohol intake.

Often, we begin the process with a lot of enthusiasm and are focused - but then, when we don't experience the more immediate gratification and realize that we need to work hard day after day, we lose steam and those resolutions seem to go by the wayside. Thus, by the time the middle of the year arrives, not much has changed.

I would suggest re-framing those resolutions to that of goal setting. Be realistic and specific about your goals and plan some short-term goals that you can reach on your way to the final goal. For example, you may want/need to lose 30 pounds. Take your overall goal of 30 pounds, and break it into smaller goals that are more readily achievable. Meeting smaller goals and milestones helps you to stay motivated and achieve success over the long run. You will be making changes in day to day living that can be sustained. This will increase the likelihood of reaching your ultimate goal. 

Make a commitment to yourself to lose and maintain 10 pounds. When that happens, then set another goal of losing 10 more pounds. Be realistic when setting your goal. Also, be specific. What will you do to lose those 10 pounds? Think through this, and identify which action steps you will take to reach your goal, such as:

  • I will walk 15 minutes each morning before leaving for work.
  • I will take a healthy lunch to work instead of going to a restaurant.
  • I will drink 2 soft drinks/day instead of 4/day.
  • I will have a piece of fruit for my afternoon snack instead of a candy bar from the vending machine.

These types of changes are doable and maintainable and will help you reach your goal.

  1. Remember to IDENTIFY your goals and action steps.
  3. WRITE down your goals and action steps.

When you write down your action steps on a "to do list" for the day, you give priority to them and remind yourself to accomplish them. You are making a commitment to yourself to accomplish these tasks.

Remember, when you reach your goal, reward yourself with a non-food item to celebrate your success!

Kathleen Baskett, MD is the Medical Director of Weight Management at St. Vincent Healthcare. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland School of Medicine, and the author of “Moving Forward: The Weigh to a Healthier Weight”.