At the start of the new year most people try to set themselves goals. New Year’s resolutions are often set with little thought or planning, based on external factors like what your friends are doing or what sounds good at the time. The strongest motivations are internalized so it is important to take some time by yourself to think about what you really want from the new year and then set about making that happen. Selecting a goal for yourself helps to promote your own internal motivation and strengthens your New Years resolve.
When you are setting goals you should try to make them SMART goals, the acronym in this case stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timed. SMART goals help to create a clearly defined target and allow you to make tangible improvements. To make it clearer what the difference is between a SMART goal and other goals I’ll give an example:
“I’m going to eat healthily in the new year!”
The goal itself is not a bad one but the way it is set out has some major flaws. With a goal like this, it can be very difficult to keep yourself accountable or know at the end of the year whether you have made any real improvement or significantly changed your behaviour.
Creating smaller goals allows you to make small improvements to bring about large change. A more manageable goal for example would be “I will eat three homemade meals everyday”. This is a far more specific target and it has a clear way of being measured.
When defining what an achievable goal is it is very important to be honest with yourself. You should be aware of many of your weaknesses. Try to think through the normal excuses or reasons that you don’t cook. When you have the list of all your common reasons start writing out the solutions to them or look them up online. Thinking about problems when you are motivated and creating your own solutions means that when you encounter them as you are tired or stressed you are more positive in your internal dialogue. Here are some common complaints
“I’m not good at cooking”
Cooking is a life skill and there are many recipes that can be done healthily without much skill. Cooking is all about attention if you know that you are not the best cook try to stay attentive and set timers.
“I don’t know what to make”
There are cook books aimed at every type of person, cooking every type of food. For a limited time Urban Fitness even has a cook book available for free. The internet is full of recipes from world renowned chefs and enthusiastic amateurs; find someone whose style appeals to you and try it out.
“I never have the right ingredients”
Planning your meals in advance can be a huge help in this regard. It is important to note that not all ingredients are essential to making a dish. Oftentimes herbs and spices which can be expensive are not essential but they are recommended if you wish to improve the flavor of your food.
“I don’t have enough time”
This one all comes down to planning. If you are extremely busy there are many options that can be quite simple to prepare in bulk and store well. Some good choices are chili, soups and stew; all of which can be made in large quantities on the weekends and easily reheated at a moments notice.
“I don’t have the equipment”
If you don’t have any of the equipment consider it an investment with excellent returns and buy the necessities a sharp knife, a pot with some weight to it and a good pan will get you a long way. If you can’t afford them, borrow them or get really creative!
“I’m hardly ever at home”
If you are rarely at home then you should consider investing in Tupperware and/or a thermos flask so that you can bring the food you need with you. Keep non-perishable staples at home like canned foods, rice and pasta.
“I love eating out”
For this one you can try to re-create some of your favourite dishes at home; however, if the entire experience is what you are looking for then give yourself a limit to the amount of times you go out in a month and stick to that
When looking through this list you may see some statements that ring close to home for you. Normally when compared to the satisfaction of achieving your goal, it should seem worth the smaller sacrifices of the solution; if they don’t then you should re-evaluate your initial goal. When creating your solutions some of them may even seem daunting, try breaking them down into simpler tasks.
Your goal needs to be relevant, if the goal of making food at home was to get healthier, it is important that what you cook when you are at home is healthy and meets all of your dietary needs. It is important that you stay conscious of the overall goal while achieving your short term goals.
Having time-based goals is important. Often times with new years resolutions, the plan is to do it for the entire year however, setting shorter timeframes for re-evaluation and adjustments can lead to improved results. It helps you to stay accountable and gives you short term goals which people are better equipped to handle. This means that even if you aren’t perfect for the entire year you gave yourself the best chance to make as much progress as you could. This helps to prevent disappointment and quitting. Treating it as an ongoing process of self-improvement helps to keep you motivated to keep going and see yourself closing in on the goal that you set yourself at the start of the year.