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Treat Yourself the SMART way for reaching your goals
By this point, you have Set goals, Monitored your progress, Arranged your world for success, Recruited a support system, and now you are on the last step in the SMART model.
Every time you complete a goal, big or small, reward yourself.
Yes, you heard that right.
When you begin a diet, you are looking at your ultimate goal from a distance. A very big distance!
It’s pretty intimidating to chart a course to lose 50, 80, or 100 lbs. The mind has a hard time wrapping itself around the idea. That’s why we set smaller, achievable goals. They are all steps towards that big target.
By keeping your goals small, measurable, achievable, and observable, you focused on what you can do now. And 80 lbs to lose somehow become 60 lbs to lose. Goodbye, 20 lbs in the rear-view mirror! Then 40, then 30, and so on. 10 lb increments are easy when you set up a reward system!
When you reward your achievements, you are sending your brain the message that the actions you are taking to improve your health are important and should be acknowledged in a real way.
How cool is it when someone tells you that not only should you treat yourself every time you reach a goal, but that it’s vitally important that you do? Set your goal, monitor your progress, arrange your world for success, recruit a support system and now reward your hard work!
Just as long as the reward is not food, the sky’s the limit. And your bank account, of course.
During my weight loss, my treats varied from a manicure, a gorgeous Brighton keychain that I use every day, a new book, and eventually a beautiful watch. I looked forward to each new treat and it made working hard a pleasure because I knew exactly what was waiting for me at the end. This book, Adam Sobel’s Street Vegan, was my reward for completing this SMART series of articles. See how that works?
And rewards don’t have to cost you any money! A friend on a fixed budget set up a chart and placed a star sticker for every goal, she went on hikes with friends, hosted movie nights, and enjoyed hour-long candlelit baths while her husband watched the kids.
It’s less about what the reward is and much more about having a satisfying completion of a goal.
- When you do something and the world just keeps moving and your accomplishment is ignored, it’s disappointing and you have no encouragement to continue the behavior.
- When you reward yourself, even in some small way, for a new healthy behavior, you are acknowledging the achievement and you want to do it again.
Taking a moment to tell ourselves “Good job!” and reward the goal we’ve just reached, makes the moment that much more powerful and satisfying.
And that’s it, the big secret thing you need to know about successfully completing goals.
Rewarding a behavior reinforces that behavior.
Think about that for a minute. If you are rewarded every time you do something good for your health, won’t you want to keep doing it?
Choosing a reward at the time you set your goal gives you something to work towards and reinforces the behavior.
It’s also important to keep sending positive messages to yourself. Have that manicure or read a new book, but remember to tell yourself that there are many rewards for the life you are choosing to live. Besides the goal rewards, the goals you accomplish are taking you another step closer to the life you want to lead.
The SMART system of setting and achieving goals is an ongoing part of my life. This week’s goals, for example, are:
- To work on my productivity & scheduling and make time for myself as well as home, family and work commitments. I’m also taking a business class and have to fit all those assignments into my day. Since I tend to put myself last in priority, I make sure that my reward is always time for myself. To spend an uninterrupted hour reading a novel or getting together with a friend for coffee. I usually have 5-6 of these types of goals going at once, but it’s not as hard as you might think. You brush your teeth every day, right? I write my goals on my to-do list and just get them done every day. Easy peasy!
- To start a 30-day introductory yoga class at my local studio (See my post on Fitness on the Cheap). The promise of a yoga class is bliss for me. If you’ve never tried yoga, trust me that the hour is a reward in itself. It can be expensive but, while you are trying out what works for you, these introductory offers are very cost-effective. My reward will be some new yoga pants.
Want to read more about SMART goal setting? Get the book!
So what are you waiting for? Go set a new goal right now!
And don’t forget to pick a reward for getting the job done!
Start with downloading my free The SMART goal setting worksheet. It’s available, with other free goodies, in the Resource Library. Click above to get the secret password!
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