5 Simple Steps to Setting Monthly Goals

Anyone who has ever worked with me knows that I am all about monthly goal setting for your health- both long term and short term.  In fact, every person I see the first time goes home with at least 2-3 goals to work on until our next visit.

These monthly goals aren’t given to them though. I view my role as their dietitian to help them discover what it is that they really want to work on.  However, I don’t let them just pick anything willy nilly.

There is a method to setting monthly goals and you will find here just how I work through those goals with each of my clients, but first we must understand WHY we need monthly goals.

Writing Monthly Goals in notebook

Why do you even need monthly goals?

How many times has a client come to me just wanting a meal plan? Or just to be told what to eat?  I’m sorry. I am NOT your dietitian if that is what you want. Why? Because I counsel people so they can make REAL change, not just follow yet another diet for a specified time just to go back to where they started. No no no.  

I don’t want that to happen and part of avoiding that yo-yo dieting habit is to set and achieve monthly goals. Why monthly goals?

  1. They keep you motivated. If you are creating your own monthly goals, then you are more likely to achieve them.  
  2. They are flexible to change as you achieve them (or don’t and need to re-evaluate). Monthly goals are meant to be achieved and then tweaked as time goes on. They are not rigid.
  3. They keep you on track. Again, when you are creating your own monthly goals, they keep you on track and focused.  When you start to waiver, then you will always have something to go back to. Plus, having monthly goals is less daunting then your typical 5-year plan.

So, how do you create monthly goals?

Every plan needs a blueprint. The same goes for monthly goal setting.

1. Don’t be vague

When setting monthly goals, you need to drill down exactly what it is you are trying to accomplish.  You have to be specific.  

For example, a vague goal would be: I want to lose weight.  OK, great, you want to lose weight!  But that does not specify how much.  Which leads me to the next step in creating goals:

2. Make the goal measurable

What do we mean by measurable? By definition it means something that can be quantified.  Try to answer these questions: How much? Or How many? 

To stick to our previous example, a more specific and measurable goal would be “I want to lose 10 pounds.”

3. Have an end in mind

Goals are meant to be achieved at some point.  Therefore, you must define that time frame.  This end point really does depend on the previous two steps.  For most of my clients, these are monthly goals but they can also be longer.

When developing your time frame, make sure that you are being realistic. If you are having trouble with understanding what is healthy and realistic, this might be where your local registered dietitian nutritionist can be of help.  Need to find one? Check out this list of RDNs in your area!

Here is an example of a goal with all 3 components in mind: I want to lose 10 lbs in 6 months

4. Take Action

Here is where you are going to answer the question: HOW? How will you accomplish the goal you are setting? For this, you will want to keep utilizing the goal setting skills by being specific and measurable

Write Action Steps: Using my example above “I want to lose 10 lbs in 6 months”

  1. Action Step One: I commit to getting at least 20 minutes of exercise 4 days per week (bike riding, weight lifting, yoga)
  2. Action Step Two: I will eat at least 5 cups of fruits and vegetables daily
  3. Action Step Three: I will go to bed at least 30 minutes earlier to reach at least 7 hours per night

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    5. Find Your Motivation

    So you have set your goals, now, I want you to answer the question: “What will help me keep on track to achieve these goals?”

    Reward yourself, but don’t make it a food reward. Perhaps a new pair of shoes, or some self pampering is the answer to your motivation woes

    The idea here is to find something that will keep YOU going. What might motivate me may not necessarily motivate you or your best friend. Keep it personal.

    Finally, Make Monthly Goals Visible!

    If you have ever worked with me one on one, I tell each and every one of you to place your written/typed/photographed goal up in a place where you will look at them every day.  That way they are in your face and you cannot forget about them. Need a monthly goal template to work with?  Try mine!

    At the end of each month, I encourage you to reflect and review what you are proud of and what you still want to work on.  It is important to reflect on your monthly goals because at times, we need to adjust or tweek what we are working on.  Sometimes, we need to hold ourselves more accountable the following month. And then sometimes we are on the right trajectory.  

    So there you go, 5 simple steps to setting monthly goals.  Planning to fail is failing to plan, don’t let that happen to you when trying to achieve your goals!

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