Most of us have big picture goals of how we want to be keep our lives interesting, satisfying, focused and fun. But what about the small day to day goals?
We don’t only need big picture goals of where we want to get to, but habits or ‘mini goals’ that we are working on daily. These goals are often overlooked, but are the ones that are going to get you the bigger goals; small actions, adding up day by day.
One way to think of these goals is as ‘tasks’. Although yes, they are still goals, weekly mini-goals should be small – and for good reason. Small is effective. Small can be rescheduled, reorganised and easily resumed. Small brings in success early – which helps in motivating you to continue and builds momentum.
Something as ‘small’ as substituting food choices or an extra cardio session a week can make a huge positive impact. Here are some suggested guidelines for setting your small tasks:
Your daily and weekly tasks should work within the lifestyle you’re dealing with. Your lifestyle is going to have to change as you move towards your goals. But healthy change often starts in bits and pieces, kind of like putting a jigsaw puzzle together. Your life is what it is right now – ideal or not, that’s your starting point. And you’ll be a lot happier and less frazzled if you work with your existing lifestyle instead of against it. Ignoring the realities of your daily life will probably result in failure and frustration.
Small changes are often barely noticed so they’re manageable and you won’t end up disappointed. Every day, whether we think so or not, you’re faced with small opportunities to make healthy choices and build healthy habits, to make changes that you may not even notice. You have the chance now to get good at recognising those small windows of opportunity.
Prepare for it
Millions of people hope to change their body but only a few actually prepare for it. They treat it like a game, setting out and hoping it’ll all work out. No wonder the dieting failure rate hovers near 95%.
Any time you’ve reached a meaningful goal, it was because you were ready for it. It didn’t just happen or fall in your lap. If it did, that’s more good fortune than goal achievement.
The difference between hoping something will happen and making it happen is preparation. Not too many people gain a great body through good luck, so you’ll probably have to rely on preparation.
Here are some practical strategies you can start right now to be more prepared:
- Think 10-15 minute blocks of time.
We’re all faced with little gaps of time throughout the day that could probably be put to better use. See how many you can fill up with short bursts of physical activity. For example, if you’re early for an appointment, go for a walk instead of reading a magazine.
- Take healthy snacks to work.
When the munchies come calling, you won’t need to run to the snack box or nearest cafe.
- Pack a gym bag
Keep it in your car, at the office, or by your front door – for use on a moments notice.
- Choose smart substitutions
Rather than focusing on what you need to ‘remove’ from your life (remember our brains don’t like the feeling of giving up something or missing out), think about the best thing you can have instead. Substitution is MUCH more fun than deprivation!Don’t be scared to ask cafes or restaurants to make things exactly how you want them. Be brave and speak up. It’s your body and your choice!
Here are some substitution ideas that you’ll likely barely notice once you get used to them:
- Swap your flat whites/lattes to plain black coffee
- Sandwiches to salads with plenty of protein
- Lollies to protein bars – many people justify lollies by the fact that they are low fat, even though sugar turns to fat if you don’t burn it off!
- Beer to vodka, soda and fresh limes (still not ideal, but less bloating and the body processes/metabolises it easier)
- Bread to sweet potato (you can fill it with almost anything!)
- Pasta to courgette ‘noodles’ (you can use a peeler or sharp knife)
- Rice to very finely chopped cauliflower
- Snacking on crackers to snacking on raw veges
There are certain things we think of as staple foods just because they are common foods and we don’t question whether or not they are even healthy. Think outside the square and you’ll be surprised how you can lose fat with just a few simple changes. But it’s only doable if you find suitable substitutions rather than cutting things out completely, and sometimes these changes need to take place over time (sometimes years!) and not overnight.
Here are some more ideas that may help you with making good ‘small’ tasks and choices:
- Leave healthy snacks throughout your house, your office and even your car. You don’t want to be caught out being forced to make a choice between bad and worse.
- When you cook, make a big batch and save some for later. Freeze in bulk when you have time such as on the weekend.
- Combine goals. This works especially well with social or family goals. See if there’s someone who can join you for a workout, make a healthy dinner together, or meet you at the gym for a class to make sure you turn up.
- Plan ahead. Most of our exercise sessions and meals could benefit from a little more forethought…
Something as important as your health deserves some time and attention. Start small. Make just one or two of these substitutions every day and you have a great head start!
Image / FreeDigitalPhotos.net – luigi diamanti