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How to stay motivated: The golden rule of goal setting

Do you regularly set yourself goals? Do you find yourself constantly wanting to achieve something but never seem to get around to it? Maybe you want to quit smoking, join a gym or change up your diet… but how can you make sure you stick to your goals and succeed?

Even with the best intentions, it’s easy to slip into old patterns when you make lifestyle changes to improve your health and fitness. The key to success is effective goal setting. In this article, we want to help you smash your objectives with these helpful tips on setting goals and staying motivated.

Falling into old patterns

“New Year, New Me” is a phrase often thrown around in January to convince people that we are going to make the changes we need to lead a better, healthier, more enjoyable life. However, April time rolls around and not much has changed. Work, time and other restraints seem to get in the way. Before you know it, another 12 months has rolled by and its “New Year, New Me” all over again. The reality is that people don’t step back and reflect on these changes, embarking on the challenge without realistic, defined goals in mind.

The facts on goal setting

If this sounds like you, then it’s likely that you need to set yourself some effective goals. It’s likely that you already do this in some capacity, most likely your objectives at work. Goals can make the difference between whether you achieve or not, or for some people, whether you even start to try. Having an idea of what you’d like to achieve but having no strategy or time frame as to how and when you’d like to achieve this weakens your goal into simply being a nice idea.

A Harvard Business Study found that people who set goals are 10 times more successful than those without goals. And notably, the act of writing down these goals triples your likelihood of success further. Goal setting theory predicts that, under certain conditions, setting specific difficult goals leads to higher performance when compared with no goals or vague, non-measurable goals such as “try your best.”

The golden rule of goal setting

If you’re new to goal setting and need a simple way to start off, making your goals SMART would be a fantastic way to do so.

S – Specific

Is your goal specific to you? Do YOU want or need to achieve this and how is achieving this going to benefit you?

M – Measurable

How can you measure your progress against this goal? Is it how many times you exercise each week? Is it how many cigarettes/alcoholic drinks you have each week? Try to find an area of what you are trying to achieve that you can keep a count of or monitor in some way. You can track your health with your Evergreen Life app – the Health & Fitness Monitoring tool allows you to record and monitor a wide range of physiological results including body fat percentage.

A – Achievable

Is your goal challenging enough, but also attainable at the same time? Try not to aim too high, especially if this is your first try.  

R – Realistic

Is this something you can do? Can you put aside the time? Are you motivated enough? Or would you benefit from doing this with a friend or hiring a coach to help push you?

T – Time-oriented

Do you have a date or time frame you’d like to achieve this in? Giving yourself a deadline can increase your chances of success massively.

If you haven’t already, try setting yourself a SMART goal today and start working towards a healthier lifestyle. Even if you have set yourself a goal, make sure you’re hitting all 5 points of SMART to increase your motivation and likelihood of succeeding. And remember, it’s okay to stumble – the important thing is to own it, pick yourself up and try again. Being able to forgive yourself will keep you motivated and stop yourself from quitting all together at the first or second hurdle. We’re with you every step of the way on your health and wellbeing journey – check back in your Evergreen Life app for more information and strategies on setting goals.

Coleman, J. and Coleman, J. (2015) “Increase the Odds of Achieving Your Goals by Setting Them with Your Spouse,” Harvard Business Review.

Locke EA , Latham GP : A Theory of Goal Setting and Performance. Englewood Cliffs, NJ, Prentice-Hall, 1990.

Mento AJ , Steel RP , Karren RJ : A meta-analytic study of the effects of goal setting on task performance: 1966-1984. Organ Behav Human Dec Proc 39:52-83, 1987.

Tubbs ME : Goal-setting: A meta-analytic examination of the empirical evidence. J Appl Psychol 71:474-483, 1986.

Lee TW , Locke EA , Latham GP : Goal setting theory and job performance, in Pervin L (ed.): Goal Concepts in Personality and Social Psychology. Hillsdale, NJ, Lawrence Erlbaum, 1989.

Latham GP , Locke EA : Self regulation through goal setting. Org Behav Human Dec Proc 50:212-247,1991.

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Evergreen Life

Founded in 2014, Evergreen Life has grown from being a personal health record that put control in the hands of the user, to a nationwide health and wellbeing platform that spans primary and secondary care, as well as being a research ready platform for healthcare and life sciences institutions.