reaching goals

Making Your Goals Attainable: A Real-Life Example of an Action Plan

On a previous post, I shared how I walk clients through the process of creating a SMART Action Plan.  To read that post, CLICK HERE.

Goals Concept

So many times we make promises to ourselves:

  • “I need to lose weight.”
  • “I want to start eating healthier.”
  • “I need to get organized.”
  • “I need a new job.”

The problem is that we fail to be specific enough or assign a timeline for getting things accomplished.  A perfect example of putting something off because of lack of an action plan is my desire to obtain my Personal Training certification.  I have been thinking about getting this certification for at least 5 or 6 years, and yet, here I sit with no certification.  I even bought the study books and materials for a nationally accredited certification about 4 years ago, and I think I made it about 6 pages into the manual before I tossed it aside.

My failure to achieve my goal boils down to a lack of a SMART Action Plan, the most important step being that I didn’t assign a timeline.  “One day” is not a specific timeline.  In order to achieve your goals, you have to have a realistic, specific timeline to achieve those goals.  I decided it was time to give myself a taste of my own medicine and put an Action Plan in place!

GOAL:  Obtain Personal Training certification
DEADLINE:  By Thanksgiving  (November 28)
START DATE: August 28
*13 weeks to achieve goal*

STEPS:
1.  Study
Personal Trainer Manual and Workbook  (18 chapters; 2 chapters per week for 9 weeks)
Program Design Handbook  (4 sections; 2 sections per week for 2 weeks)
Anatomy Workbook  (1 week)
2.  Practice Test and Re-visit problem areas  (1 week)
3.  CPR certification  (deadline:  November 1)
4.  Take Final Exam for certification  (may take place in December, depending on test dates available; absolute deadline of January 1st)

By assigning deadlines and dates, as well as being specific about the steps to achieve my goal, I can now hold myself accountable and keep myself on track to meet that goal.  Reaching the goal is no longer a “one day” type of goal, but should be attained by the end of the year.

Given that I am already working on a goal of losing weight (and I’m a third of the way to my goal on my progress), a second goal of achieving this certification is probably my limit for now.  Another reason folks tend to get frustrated and give up on goals is because they overwhelm themselves by trying to accomplish too many things at one time.  In order to be successful in achieving your goals, you should only start one action plan at a time, and limit yourself to 2-3 major goals at one time.  Because I have already been working on losing weight for about 6 weeks and am successfully sticking to my action plan, I feel confident in adding another goal at this time.  However, deciding to work on this certification at the same time that I was starting my action plan for losing weight would not have been a smart choice, as I probably would have abandoned one (or both) goals.

I have put my action plan out there for two reasons: 1) to show that, even I as the Coach, need to practice what I preach (and yes, I make mistakes too), and 2) to hold myself more accountable by putting it in writing (not to mention putting it out there for an audience who can also keep me accountable).  Additionally, I have written out these steps and posted them in a location in my house where I will see the Action Plan every day (it’s harder to play “out of sight, out of mind” when it’s staring you right in the face on a regular basis).

What goals have you not achieved because you failed to be specific and assign a timeline?

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A Mother’s Challenge: Fourth Time’s a Charm!

So…as you probably noticed, I fell off the wagon.  For those struggling to get started, you should know that I had three starts and fails before I FINALLY began to stick with it.  I tried to start with the Les Mills Combat program (from Beachbody) at the beginning of May – lasted about a week.  Tried to get it going again in mid-May – failed again.  Made my own program with a calendar and everything in June – fell off after about 2 weeks.  Then we got married and went on vacation, and, well, you know how that goes (can we say “pig out”).

FINALLY, my husband (that’s still so weird to say) and I got serious around July 10.  We had a weigh-in, and we posted our respective weights on the calendar that we keep on the fridge.  It took a couple of days to really get in gear, but I’d say what really helped was using an app on my phone to track our food intake and exercise.  Though I know that tracking is what has given me success before, I think I was reluctant because I wasn’t sure how to figure in breastfeeding (well, pumping, in my case), and I didn’t want my supply to suffer.  But after two months of failing to stick to a plan, I decided to bite the bullet and start tracking.  (I should also mention here that Bella turned 6 months old on July 10, and due to finally sleeping through the night as of July 1, she was down to only 5 feedings a day.  I was pumping almost twice what she needed in a day, so I was freezing 6-12 ounces per day.  Additionally, I had a deep freezer full of milk should my supply suffer, so I became less concerned about supply issues.)  Just in case, through research I found out how, indeed, to add in breastfeeding to allow for more calories each day.

For the first couple of weeks, I ran in the mornings before Blaine went to work, so that he could be at home with Bella.  Getting my body used to counting calories was rough, as I had been just eating whenever I got hungry all through my pregnancy and had probably even increased how much I was eating as I was nursing and pumping.  But I was down to pumping only 4 times a day (and has decreased to 3 times a day within the past couple of weeks or so, soon to be down to only two times per day), so I probably didn’t need as many calories as I once did.  Tracking food, exercise, and pumping via MyFitnessPal helped tremendously in staying on track.  It was also helpful that Blaine was tracking his food and exercise, as well.  It’s always easier with a buddy!

In the past couple of weeks or so, I changed up my routine a little.  Instead of leaving Bella at home while I went running, I started taking Bella and Paisley (our Shih Tzu) with me on a power walk for 45-60 minutes.  Once back from the power walk, I started doing about 15-20 minutes of strength training exercises: squats, arms with dumbbells, crunches, etc.  I have noticed the biggest difference in weight loss, energy, and controlling my appetite since changing up my routine.  I have now lost a total of 4.5 lbs since July 10, and about a half inch each from my waist, hips, and thighs!

Here are pics of my progress thus far.  The changes are subtle, but overall I can that I’ve gone from having “rolls” to just being a little flabby.  The biggest noticeable difference is that my stomach is finally shrinking – yay!

May 2013 vs August 2013

For those still struggling out there, just don’t give up.  Just because you pooped out once doesn’t mean you’ll poop out every time.  Sometimes it just takes some practice before you really get serious.    😉

A Mother’s Challenge: Rear in Gear, Day 16

Well…..I promised you “real”.

I was better with cardio this week – got out for a walk with the dog and stroller (we are quite a sight) 4 times.  But I was TERRIBLE at keeping up with my Challenge exercises – only did them twice.  As a result, I’ve not seen any change in my measurements and have actually gained 2 pounds.  *sad face*

I have been very diligent about continuing to eat healthy, however, and though it may just be my imagination, I swear my body looks tighter – even if my measurements say otherwise.  I also feel stronger.  Sure, those 20 pushups still kick my tail, but my joints don’t hurt as bad and I don’t feel like I’m auditioning for a Rice Crispies commercial every time I move.  memorial day family pic

So here’s where we’re at:
Today is a rest day, but since I’ve rested quite a bit this past week, I’m going to try to do my Challenge exercises today.  And since Coach is home today, I can probably either get out for a family walk around the neighborhood, or possibly even go for a solo run (which is desperately needed).  I have completed through Day 10 on my Challenge exercises, so I will pick up with Day 11.  I have been tracking which days I complete, so that when I do miss days, I can jump back in where I left off.

I know many people would get to the point where I am and would say, “Oh well.  I’m so off track that I’ll just skip out on the rest of the month and start over next month.”  NOOOOOO, I say!  Just keep track as I have and jump back in when you get motivated (or well, or find that free time) again.  Time doesn’t matter.  Just DO IT.  No one is keeping track but you.  All that matters is that you are trying, that you are moving, and that you are working towards being healthy again.  Need a little more of a pep talk?  Read my article, “Just ‘Start'”.

Here’s to another week!

A Mother’s Challenge: Rear in Gear, Day 9

spring-reminder-get-in-shape-seasonal-ecards-someecards

Any progress is good progress I suppose, so we’ll take it.

As of yesterday, I had some small changes in the following measurements:
WAIST – 31.5″ (down 1/2″)
HIPS – 40.75″ (down 1/4″)
CHEST – 35″ (UP 1″! ) – haha!  Thanks Mommy Milk!
*Weight did not change*

My body has always followed a certain progression in both gaining and losing weight.  When I gain, it begins in hips and thighs, then arms and other areas, and lastly my tummy.  When I lose, it’s pretty much in reverse, so I have to lose the tummy before my body will let go of fat from other areas.  I have to keep reminding myself of this fact as I trudge onward, because I am, indeed, seeing progress in my waistline.

I have thus far done pretty well with keeping up with Challenge exercises, but have been TERRIBLE at doing any cardio.  Note to self: get on that!

Anyone else still with me on the Rear in Gear Challenge?  How are YOU doing?

A Mother’s Challenge: Rear in Gear, Day 7

black for exercise

At the close of the first week, I have to say it’s been a roller coaster.  Some days I was gung-ho, full of energy, and ready to take on the world.  Other days I struggled just to get my Challenge exercises done, let alone anything else.  I have managed to keep up with the Challenge exercises, but I have only done cardio a couple of times – and that was just walking or some calisthenics.

Squats and crunches are getting easier.  My 30-second plank today was surprising OK.  Push-ups can suck it!  Even breaking them down into 2 sets of 9, I was STRUGGLING by 6, 7, 8, and 9 of the second set.  AND I wasn’t even doing a full, true push-up – I was on my knees! Clearly I’ve got some work to do on my upper body strength.  I don’t suppose it could be this extra 20 pounds I’m carrying around!

Tomorrow is weigh-in and measurement check.  I have to say I’ve cheated a little already on both (I have no patience to wait), and there has been one area of progress.  I suppose ANY progress is good at this point, so we’ll take it.  The rest of you will have to wait until I do the “official” check and post tomorrow.

In the meantime, I know some people are dying over these squats.  My legs have admittedly always been my strongest muscle group, and I mean by a long shot.  Squats haven’t gotten to me yet (notice I said YET – let’s talk again when I’m doing 100+ per day), but I have also been changing it up, doing some different types each day, and breaking them down into smaller sets.

I made a video of suggested variations to help all of you out there:

How are you guys doing at the close of Week One?

Take Action with a SMART Action Plan

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD A COPY OF THE “TAKE ACTION” WORKSHEET

During a recent coaching session, a client told me that she feels she is being called to help people.  She was reading and soaking up information like a sponge, but really had no direction or focus for how she was going to help people.  During our session, I uncovered that she is passionate about growing herbs and herbal healing.  As she talked about this passion, her eyes lit up, and she was very animated and excited as she went on to tell me that a great grandmother had actually been known in her community as a natural and herbal healing specialist.  By the time we finished her session, we had mapped out an action plan that had specific focus, a time frame to complete a knowledge path for said focus, and her next steps for getting involved in community groups with this focus.

The hardest part of reaching your goals is getting started.  People are often so overwhelmed with the idea of the process that they often just never start.  In order to be successful with any action plan – business or personal – your plan must be S.M.A.R.T. :

S – Specific
M – Measureable
A – Achieveable/Actionable
R – Revise for Relevance
T – Timely

SPECIFIC
A goal must be specific in order to measure success.  If you just say, “I want to lose weight”, your expectation is so broad that you will never know if you reached the finish line.  However, if your goal is to lose 20 pounds, you can set up smaller goals along the way until you reach the 20 pounds.  Now you have focus to your goal and can ultimately measure success.  In the example above, my client started out wanting to “help people”, but by the time we were finished with her session, she had focused her passion into a specific goal of helping others learn about herbal healing.

MEASUREABLE
How will you measure success of your goal?  You should be able to break down your goal into smaller steps along the way by which you can measure continuous achievement.  If your goal is to lose 20 pounds, you may decide that you are going to work for losing one pound per week until that goal is achieved.  In the case of my client, we set some milestones for knowledge of her focus area: attending workshops, going to community classes, and ultimately getting a nationally-recognized certification.

ATTAINABLE/ACTIONABLE
Have you made your goal specific and measureable enough to actually carry it out?  Do you have the resources, including both skill and will, to achieve the goal?  Some people miss the first two steps, and by doing so, set themselves up for failure before they’ve even begun.  Any goal worth achieving is worth having a plan to achieve that goal.  You can’t just jump into it and think you are going to get somewhere.  Take the time to map it out – you will thank yourself later.  Without deciding first that you will strive to lose “x” amount of weight per week by “ABC” actions, you will never reach that 20-pound mark for weight loss.  In the case of my client wanting to help others, she had no end result for which she was working and probably would have floundered about trying to find her place in this world of helping/healing.  By sitting down and talking through the steps of a SMART Action Plan, we were able to give her measureable and achieveable pieces for which to strive and by which to measure success once completed.

REVISE FOR RELEVANCE
You may find along your journey a new direction or insight that takes you on a different path than originally planned – and THAT IS OK.  It doesn’t mean you have failed the original goal.  It just means that the original goal is no longer relevant to where you are at this point in your life.  How many people do you know that are still working in the career field of their college major ten or fifteen years later?  My guess is not many.  We all go to college with one passion or idea of where we want to go in life, but as we experience all that life has to offer, we can often be pulled in another direction.  Such is the case with any goal, so stay open and flexible so that you can revise your plan along the way to stay relevant.  My client may find along her journey to becoming a specialist on herbal healing that she has another passion that is even stronger than her one for herbal healing – and that is OK.  She will just need to revise her plan a little to accommodate the new focus in her life.

TIMELY
Without a time-bound point of completion, how will you ever know if you’ve crossed the finish line?  Choose a realistic time frame by which you would like to complete your goal, which is ultimately just another aspect of measurement.  By choosing a time frame, you are holding yourself accountable to actually getting the goal completed – even if you realize the time frame you have set for yourself needs to be revised along the way (in either direction – shorter or longer).  Choose a time that is relatively soon so that you will have a sense of urgency and motivation to actually get the job done, but that is far enough away that it gives you a realistic time frame for completion.  You will not lose 20 pounds safely in one month, but maybe you can lose 20 pounds in 3-5 months.  Again, stay open and flexible to revise your time along the way if need be, and don’t consider yourself a failure if it looks like it might take a little longer than originally planned.  As long as you are making progress in the right direction, you are successful.

I have a worksheet that I use with my clients in our initial consultation that walks them through a SMART Action Plan.  This “Take Action” worksheet aids in taking a large, non-specific goal that may seem overwhelming to tackle and breaks it down into a Specific, Measureable, Actionable, Relevant, and Timely Action Plan.

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD A COPY OF THE “TAKE ACTION” WORKSHEET