(They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who.”
– Rudyard Kipling, The Elephant’s Child
The most common New Year’s Resolution is weight loss. Nevertheless, it is also the least achieved due to a lack of planning and/or commitment. If you really want to lose weight and get fit, the best ‘first step’ is to spend about 30-minutes for goal setting. Yet, I realize that most people dislike some of the popular goal setting systems such as SMART or SCAMPI as they are viewed as too complex, too confusing, or too boring. No worries: I have a solution.
A few years ago, I worked with a class of third graders and taught them how to set, plan, and achieve goals. It was a wonderful opportunity; however, I realized that they needed the easiest path possible. Instead of working through the same methodology that I crafted for CEOs and entrepreneurs as an executive coach, I designed a simplified goal setting system for clarifying their goals based on the student’s curriculum that year, the Five W’s and One H: Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How.
For the below example of this simplified goal setting system, the goal will be weight loss. However, the Five W’s and One H can be used to clarify any goal. I suggest writing this out on single sheet of paper for yourself and use this as your guide for losing weight this year.
Who: Since weight loss is a personal goal, the answer is simple: You! Additionally, you may want to seek out a weight loss partner or a join a community of other people committed to fitness.
What: This where you should be very specific about the goal. Few people would be happy if they lost just an ounce. Would you like to lose 5, 10, 15, 20, 30, or 50 pounds (or the metric system equivalents)? Would you like to achieve a BMI (Body Mass Index) of 19, 21, or 23? When you determine what the focus of your weight loss goals is, make sure it is easily measured.
Where: Consider all the places that would be important to achieve this goal: home, work, a gym, restaurants, your car, etc. Also, what behaviors might you need to start, modify, or eliminate within each place.
When: Every goal should have a beginning, middle, and end. When will you start? When will you be half-way? When will it be completed? What is your personal deadline for losing the weight? And is it congruent with your ‘what’. For example, losing 50 pounds in three months is just not healthy or reasonable, but losing 10 pounds in three months is very achievable.
Why: I believe that individual goals should promote self-growth and personal excellence. Consider all the reasons you want to lose weight. Answer the question ‘Why?’ at least 5 times to get down to the core reason. Most people have a number of secondary motivations to lose weight but also the main one will be their driving force during the journey. As Friedrich Nietzsche wrote, “Given a big enough why people can bear almost any how.”
How: You don’t need to be able to dot every i and cross every t at this point; however, it is a good idea to consider some of the big steps you’ll need to do to make weight loss a reality. These could include eating more fruits and vegetables, at least 30 minutes of daily exercise, going to a gym, removing processed or fast food from your meal plans, etc. I do find most people understand the basic principles of weight loss and writing the initial ‘how’ list is fairly easy. Of course, if you want a complete ‘how-to’ system, I recommend trying the Chocolate Diet as it provides a complete roadmap for the weight loss journey.