Challenge to change: Time to set goals

By Bobby DeMuro

It's that time of year again! Now that the holidays are (kind of) behind us, and 2012 is almost here, it's time to set your focus in the New Year. More than just heading back to work, it also means you should probably start thinking about setting those dreaded New Year's Resolutions.

But don't despair! In fact, don't even think about them as New Year's Resolutions. Rather, focus on setting goals based on what you want to accomplish, rather than picking an arbitrary date like January 1st to make a resolution. And since there's no time like the present, set those goals today and start working towards them now!

Goal setting does not have to be like pulling teeth. In fact, when you do it right, it's pretty fun and easy. A major misconception about goal setting is that it's hard work; that doesn't have to be true. In fact, while you should be working towards goals, it should also be a fun and enjoyable process.

Figuring out a plan to get what you want should create enthusiasm and energy, not resistance and negativity. If you find yourself responding negatively to a goal you've set, be honest with yourself - maybe that's not something you really want; look carefully to make sure that you really want the goal.

Assuming you do, there are a few important ways to begin a good, realistic goal setting process.

First, write it down. A goal in your head doesn't hold as much power as a tangible goal on a piece of paper. If it helps, when you write it down, post it somewhere that will remind you every day what you want, and how to go about it - your refrigerator and bathroom mirror are great places to post a goal as a daily reminder.

Next, quantify it. It's not enough to have the goal of "I want to lose weight." That's great, but how much? How quickly? What will you do to make sure you lose weight - exercise more? Eat better food? Eat less food? When you create a goal, create a plan of attack too, and write down how you intend to go about achieving that goal.

Third, be realistic. Using the weight loss example, it's probably not realistic to lose 60 pounds in a month, considering the most you can lose in a healthy, sustainable way is about 2 pounds per week. Knowing that, when you quantify a goal, be realistic about it - this will help you stick to your goal and stay true to yourself when the work gets tougher.

Fourth, be flexible. While you may not reach every aspect of your goal, it's equally important not to get down on yourself. Going back to the weight loss example, if your goal is to lose 60 pounds in 6 months, and you lose 45 pounds, don't lose sight of your achievement by being disappointed with the result. While you didn't achieve the goal, you did achieve quite a bit; take pleasure in the victory!

Fifth, involve your friends and family. A goal can be accomplished alone, but it's often easier and more achievable when you involve loved ones. Not only do they hold you accountable, family can also provide much-needed support on days that those goals feel tougher than normal.

Setting a goal provides both long-term vision and short-term motivation. Not only does it help organize your time and resources so that you can make the most of your life, it also provides for a benchmark on which to measure yourself.

Set sharp, realistic goals this winter, and by the summer, you'll be taking pride in the achievement of those goals and your forward progress. The New Year provides a great time to focus on goals, but remember that today is always the best day to set a goal; start now. Good luck!

About the author:Bobby DeMuro is the Founder of No Fizz America, a non-profit dedicated to health and fitness. He is also the founder FusionSouth, a sports conditioning firm. You can follow him on Twitter and Facebook .

You can listen to Bobby on his weekly radio show on Radio Exiles.

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