Three Tips For Setting The Right Goals

By Kim DeMattia

We’ve all had the experience of setting ambitious New Year’s resolutions with the idea that “this will be the year!”… only to feel defeated by mid-January. Why does this happen? It’s not because we’re bad people or we’re lacking willpower… according to psychologist Dayna Lee-Baggley, it’s because we set the wrong goals in the first place. 

It turns out that succeeding with our goals depends a lot on the kind of goals we set… and on a recent episode of My Weight Live (watch it here), Dr. Lee-Baggley shared three simple tips for setting goals that will set us up for success:

1) Choose a behavior.

Dr. Lee-Baggley says the first thing someone should think about when setting a goal is to choose a behavior. She explains, “a behavior is something that someone else can see you do. Behaviors do not include feelings – it’s not whether you want to do it or even whether you enjoyed it” but rather a concrete action. 

Some examples of behaviors include 30 minutes walking around your neighborhood three times a week, choosing to drink water instead of soda while out with friends, or making a nutritious breakfast each morning. Behaviors are not “lose 5 pounds this week” or “feel excited to go to the gym.” They are actions that you can track and cross off of a to-do list.

2) Pick a 90% goal.

The second tip is to pick a 90% goal. Dr. Lee-Baggley explains that “picking something you’re 90% sure you’re going to succeed at is critical, because when we feel like we’re succeeding at something, we want to keep going. If we feel like we’re failing, we want to stop. That’s just human nature.”

If you already walk two days a week, a 90% goal might be planning to walk 30 minutes a day, three days a week. You’re starting with something realistic which enables you to succeed and then build on your success by making the next goal a little bigger. The key here is to pick something you know you can do, do it, and allow yourself to feel successful. Then, build on your momentum and choose a slightly more ambitious goal (that you now know that you can do). This becomes a super-positive and self-affirming cycle.

3) Focus on a “do instead” goal.

Dr. Lee-Baggley’s third tip is to try picking a “do instead” goal. People often choose a goal around food that is very restrictive. For example, “I’m going to stop eating junk food.” Instead, Dr. Lee-Baggley encourages you to ask yourself, “‘What am I going to eat instead of junk food?’ and focus on adding nutritious things into your diet, rather than taking unhealthy things out. This will help you feel less deprived. 

She explains that restrictive goals “create something known as the thought suppression effect: the more you try to not think about something, the more you’ll think about it, and this will make your goal that much harder to accomplish.”

Examples of “do instead” goals are: “I will replace my soda at lunch with sparkling water during the work week,” or “I will start enjoying ‘Meatless Mondays.’” Notice that these goals are not “I will give up soda” or “I will not eat meat anymore.”

Incorporating these three tips when setting goals for yourself will increase your likelihood of success, allow you to feel more confident in yourself, and help you reach your long-term goals. Try them out, and leave a comment for us on this My Weight Live episode to keep us posted on your progress!

In this fantastic video, Dr. Lee-Baggley talks more about goal setting:

Diet and exercise alone aren’t enough to help many people reach a healthier weight. Medical treatments are needed to address the biological changes happening in our bodies that can drive weight regain. To find a physician near you who specializes in weight management, click here.

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This article was sponsored by Novo Nordisk Canada. All content is created independently by My Weight – What To Know with no influence from Novo Nordisk.

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