Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD
Taking Small Steps Towards Your Goals
As fall approaches, you, like the trees, may be thinking about turning over a new leaf. Before any new change can take place in your life though, small steps must be made to help create that change. These steps may seem overwhelming and may make you feel hesitant to make any changes. However, all it takes is that first step towards your new change to start your journey. Read below for tips on how to make a plan to make positive change in your life without becoming overwhelmed.
Setting your goal
Before you take any steps towards change, it helps to lay down what your ultimate goal is. Whether that be walking more steps each day, eating more fiber daily, or finding your dream job, then you need to write this down somewhere to remind yourself of that destination. Once this is done, then you can start making a list of steps you need to take to reach that goal.
Creating your path
What is your starting point?
When it comes to creating your path, you need to start with a basic stepping stone and then build on it. For example, if you hope to eat more fiber each day, then you should first figure out how much fiber you are eating right now. Start by tracking what you eat with an online app for a few days to find out what your baseline fiber intake is. From here, you can set a goal of how much fiber you wish to consume each day. A healthy ultimate goal would be around 14 grams of fiber per 1000 calories daily.
If you were hoping to find your dream job, then your starting point would be to put together a resume to help you see how much experience you have so far. For a walking goal, your starting point would be your current average number of steps walked per day. A baseline helps you see what progress you have already made towards your ultimate goal so you can determine the next steps you have to take to get closer to your goal.
2. Do your research
Next, take some time to do some research online or with others that have accomplished the goal you wish to accomplish. This research is vital to making sure you take the steps you need to take to reach your goal. For the fiber goal above, this research could involve gathering a list of fiber-rich foods from websites like eatright.org and figuring out which foods you haven't tried yet.
For the job goal, this could mean talking to recruiters in your field of interest or reaching out to others on sites like LinkedIn that work in your field of interest. Find out what qualifications you need for such jobs and start networking with people who work at places you wish to work for.
Research for a walking goal would involve looking at your current schedule and seeing what times of the day you could fit in more steps. For example, perhaps taking the stairs instead of the elevator at work or walking up and down each aisle at the grocery store intentionally to get more steps in.
3. Make your first step
Once the research is done, it's time to take that first step. It can help to make a list of steps to follow along your journey so you have a clear path ahead of you. There will of course be some obstacles that may come your way or turns you may have to make in your journey, but this list will provide some direction.
For the fiber goal, these steps could involve trying one new fiber-rich food each week and cooking it in different ways or with different flavors to figure out what you enjoy. For the walking goal, this could be trying to make time to walk for 10 more minutes each week to add more steps to your daily routine. And for the job goal, this could be applying to at least one job each day, signing up for a training or certification class, or building a business website (whatever applies to your goal).
4. Keep stepping
Each week, set a measurable goal to meet and build on that each week. Breaking your ultimate goal into steps like this can make it seem more attainable and can increase your chance for success. A measurable goal is something you can track more easily than just saying "I want to eat more vegetables this week." Instead a measurable goal would be like "I want to eat one more cup of vegetables this week." Keep a log of your goals and if you don't meet one week's goal, no sweat! Perhaps break the goal down a little further to make it more attainable in a week's time.
Final tips on goal setting
Who says you need to wait until the new year to start making positive changes in your life. With all that is happening in the world today, NOW is the perfect time to start turning over your new leaf. All you need to do is muster up the courage and strength that I know is inside of you and take those steps necessary to start creating your lighter life TODAY!