If you have ever set out to achieve a goal, no matter how big or small, you have probably been met with the advice that “There is no better day to start than today.” There are hundreds of quotes that express this one idea — No Joke. Google it.
While I generally agree with the sentiment of this advice, I also believe that there are better days than others.
Before I go any further about setting goals, I should probably mention that although I’m not perfect — i’m far from it — I have spent a lot of time reading, watching, asking questions and researching the basic principles of what it takes for one to achieve their goals.
I have failed and succeeded multiple times. With every win and every loss, I have taken learnings. I still don’t have it all worked out.
Here is what I have worked out so far, and why today is the best day to start.
It has been 2 months since I finished my last project, my 100 day project. I lost a total of 12kg during the 100 days — around o.8KG a week. How did I do it? Well, on March 5th, I made the decision to start. I started with a few slight habit changes.
I decided to:
- drink more water
- eat less carbs
- eat smaller amounts during the day
- don’t eat before bed
- reduce intake of highly processed foods
- eat fruit, but not too much
- eat until satisfied, not full
These goals were based on some preconceived ideas I had gathered from my dieting experiences, or as I now call them, projects.
My success had less to do with the initial habits I set. The fact was, that I failed to do a lot of these things. I still ate a decent amount of processed foods — I would have a protein bar every morning.
I ended up focussing on one goal, or habit, that wasn’t part of my initial plan — restricting calories. Why? Because it was measurable.
I knew how many calories I could eat a day. This meant I ate burgers, I ate processed food, I ate chips with aioli from one of my favourite restaurants, The Stokehouse. Was I healthier from it? Well, I was losing fat, which could only be a good thing.
Creating measurable, clear cut goals reduces anxiety.
How would I eat LESS carbs? Less than what? Less than Before? How much was I eating before?
Eat smaller amounts during the day. How small? How often? Goals, you’re not helping, you’re just confusing me!
The trick is to pick habits that you can tick off; that are clearly measurable. You either clearly did it, or clearly didn’t.
‘Save money every week’ doesn’t keep you accountable. ‘Save $500 a week’ does. While your goal still is ‘save more than I was before’, to keep yourself honest and anxiety free, give it a number. Make it tangible.
For me, this means;
- Drink 2 litres of water a day
- Eat 6 meals a day that are the size of my palm.
- Don’t eat after 7pm
- Walk 10 Kilometres a day (The equivalent of walking to-and-from work.
These habits cannot be disputed. I either did them, or didn’t. I either succeeded or failed.
Why start today?
If you haven’t noticed, I like round numbers. Although these are lifestyle choices that will hopefully last a lifetime, it seems a little scary to start a habit and say ‘yep, i’m now doing it forever’. That’s obviously the end goal, but don’t set the expectations so high.
100 days can go by and not much can change. Which is why it’s a perfect platform to create new habits; the secret in achieving your long term goals.
Today marks 20 weeks until the end of the year (give or take a couple of days).
With this round number, you can do a lot.
In 20 weeks, there are 100 weekdays and 20 weekends.
With these round numbers you could:
Lose 20 KGs in 20 weeks with habits that are measurable:
- Go to the gym 100 times – This can be broken down to 5 days a week
- Walk 1,500KMs – break this down to 10KM a day
This is exactly what I plan to do. It is all very palatable and more importantly, achievable.
A great and easy way to track your habits is through the iPhone app ‘Lift‘. A simple pen and pad can work too.
So start today. You have 20 weeks.