How to be a Goal Tender
There’s a ton of information out all this month about how to stick to your New Year’s resolution. I suppose it’s necessary considering that 4 out of 5 adults don’t achieve their anticipated goal by the time the year comes to an end. What’s worse is that many of these unachieved goals involve becoming healthier through diet and exercise. This results in Americans becoming increasingly unhealthy, and negatively affects their quality of life.
If you have a friend or loved one that makes the same New Year’s resolution year after year and promises that this year they’re “really going to make it happen,” only to give up after a few months, weeks, or even days, perhaps you can help. Support from a loved one or friend can help keep the flame burning and keep one moving swiftly towards their goal- if it’s positive.
Keep in mind- goals are very personal for an individual. Therefore, it’s important to make sure your form of encouragement is constructive as your words, actions, and facial expressions, can cut deeper than you think. Sometimes we assume we’re helping a loved one when in fact we are doing just the opposite. Statements like, “I thought you said you were going to lose weight this year- why are you eating that?” don’t help.
Here are some ways to be a form of support for your goal oriented loved one or friend.
The philosopher John Dewey described the deepest urge in human nature is “the desire to be great.” Everyone likes when someone notices when they do something well. It boosts their self-esteem. Studies have shown that those with higher self-esteem make healthier lifestyle choices.
For the first few weeks after the goal has been set a person may hit the road running. Literally. They may get out of bed each morning, exercise, eat healthy, and show the upmost enthusiasm and all the potential in the world for achieving their goal. During this phase it’s important to make sure that you’re taking notice. At some point during the day, tell them that you’re really proud of them for being so consistent and making a genuine effort. I guarantee they will continue the pattern the next day.
Give Options with Enthusiasm
If you go out to eat, really play up the healthier dishes. “Oh, wow, the Mediterranean salad with sirloin strips sounds great, huh? Okay, now if you go ahead and order the deluxe cheeseburger with onion rings that comment may sound extremely condescending so along with this you should try to set an example and order a healthier option as well.
If they’re feeling tired, stressed, irritated and just don’t want to head to the gym or do the usual workout routine, don’t criticize, but instead agree with them. People like to hear what they want to hear. Say something like, “I bet, you’re tired, you’ve been working really hard this week, and I’m proud of you, why don’t you just take it easy today, and go for a brisk walk instead.” This way, they know that their efforts have been noticed; they feel as though they were right, and they’re still getting in exercise one way or another. It makes it even better if you offer to go with them.
Psychologists B.F. Skinner found that positive reinforcement promotes learning faster than punishment. Set an incentive early on so your partner has something to work towards. For example, a husband may say, “You look great now; I can’t even imagine how great you’ll look in a bathing suit once you reach your goal, why don’t we book that trip to Florida in 3 months? You deserve to show off your body after all this.”
A) This lets the wife know that you already think that she’s beautiful- Gold Star
B) Puts a time frame on achieving the goal
C) Offers a tangible reward
People love to talk….about themselves. To be supportive one of the best things you can do is to listen. They may go on and on about why they want to achieve this goal, what they’ve done in the past, why it hasn’t worked, how this time is going to be different, yada, yada, yada. Sometimes you just have to offer an ear, show that you care, and nod in agreement. When a person talks about something very personal with you such as their goals, I wouldn’t try to squash them. Offering suggestions is great, but don’t criticize their efforts bringing up what happened last time they embarked on this journey. Try to put yourself in their shoes, see where they’re coming from. They’re confiding in you, because they are comfortable with you, perhaps even looking for approval.
Try not to interrupt them. Don’t start talking about what you would do, or your own personal goals. This will make them feel belittled, unimportant.
Dale Carnegie wrote, “A person’s toothache means more to that person than a famine in China which kills a million people. A boil in one’s neck interests one more than forty earthquakes in Africa.” Remember this the next time someone confides and shares their thoughts and goals with you. It will not only help you help them work towards their goal, but also help you in life.