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Start the new year with 2020 vision.
Christmas is over, 2019 is about done and most people are starting to look towards the new year with a fresh start. For many, December started to go downhill with overindulging over the holiday season. Few managed to stay strong, but that is rare.
However, the last 12 months have been, January is an opportunity to start afresh with a Goal Twin.
What is a Goal Twin?
Good question. Regardless of whether you have had a great past year, or it could have been a bit better, a Goal Twin is someone who shares your goals for the next 12 months and will commit to working with you to achieve them mutually.
How to find a Goal Twin
Whilst you could find someone online, at a gym or elsewhere, it would make sense to speak to your friends and family to find someone with the same goals as you. It could be someone you already train with, someone you know from social media that you see has similar interest as yourself. Whoever you choose, make sure they are fully committed, and you need to be too, in order to push and pull one another through.
Can I partner up with more than one person?
Yes, of course you can, it’s your personal choice. However, in my experience, it is much easier to stick to just one. Any more than that and it can be easier for one to let the others down, drop out every so often, or make excuses, knowing that the remaining team can continue without them. That won’t benefit anyone. What if there are three of you, and two drop out on the same day without realising the other has? Now you’re on your own.
If you know it’s just you and your partner, you’re less likely to leave them stranded.
What goals can we set for the new year?
The choice is yours; it doesn’t have to be fitness related. It could be absolutely anything. But think of things you can help each other with on a regular basis. It could be;
- Gym training
- Running, cycling, swimming…
- Weight loss
- Starting a new sport
- Mental well-being
- Financial goals
- Charity work
- Starting a new business
- Studying for an exam or promotion
- Blog writing
- Arts and crafts
- Creating music
As you can see, there are many achievements you can work towards with a Goal Twin.
How do we start working towards our goals together?
Whatever you choose, I would meet up in person, if possible – though there is no reason why you can’t choose a Goal Twin that lives away from you, though it would be easier if you can meet face-to-face regularly. So, once you have your goal and how you plan to work your plan, and agree it with your Goal Twin, arrange to meet up. If your goal is weight loss, meeting in the local coffee shop, cake shop or pub might not be the best option, but if you can resist the urge then feel free. You could choose a healthy alternative, like a smoothie bar, or even your own home.
Have a chat to make sure you share the same aspirations and then plan out how you are going to start. It’s a good idea to draw up a written contract which you both sign, setting out what you will do and when, where, how often, and what notice you will give each other if you are unable to make the next appointment for any reason.
Let’s have a look at some of the options in a bit more detail;
Now this category can be taken loosely, it doesn’t have to be weight training in the local fitness centre – it could be cross fit, circuits, boxing, other fitness classes, but they will all work with this example.
If you’re reading this in December or January, this is a really good time to sign up for a new gym membership. This is when they have their main offers: special price subscriptions, no joining fee, you may even be able to get a discount for signing up together. Don’t forget to see if they offer a trial period, many offer free day or week for free or fixed price. Sometimes if you sign up, your friend could get a free trial.
Also consider your availability – can you take advantage of their lower price, off peak subscriptions?
Once you’ve signed up, schedule a plan of when you’ll attend. I always recommend a minimum of three days a week of exercise. You don’t have to do all of these with your Goal Twin, but the more you do together, the better your chance of success.
If you are doing your own sessions, devise a training plan, download an app or ask an instructor to do this for you. Then plan ahead to change your plan every 6-12 weeks, for variety and to keep things fresh.
If you will be attending fitness classes, check the timetable and figure out which ones you will sign up for. Most gyms allow advanced bookings, either at the reception desk or online, so you can plan ahead. It also means that you can both sign up at the end of one session ready for the next.
Running, Cycling, Swimming…
Similar to the Gym Training category, you would agree the frequency and times to meet up for a run, bike ride, walk, swim, or any other type of non-gym activity. If you’ve done the activity before, and you have the required equipment you need. If not, you can research what you need together. You can even go and buy it together. Look for something of reasonable quality – nothing too cheap that won’t last, but nothing too expensive either.
Again, you should use some sort of training program to work to and look to improve your time or distance on a regular basis. Ideally you will be training with someone at a similar level as you, or slightly ahead or behind you so that you can actually train together and pull each other through. You will also be able to find training programs online, with an app or at a local club, if you wish to join one.
Remember to review your progress regularly and adjust your next session accordingly.
I have written a whole article on weight loss already, so have a read of that. But your first thoughts should be around how much weight you want/need to lose, and why. Also, make sure you plan your weight loss journey safely and realistically. Rather than drastically reducing the amount of food you eat, consider Food Swaps, exchanging food types with healthier options. Try to avoid jumping on the scales every day, as this won’t actually show a true picture of your progress. Instead, think about 2-weekly check ins, or less if you can. Take selfies, or get your Goal Twin to take a picture of you at the same time of day every 2-4 weeks. Sometimes you might not lose weight, but you may look or feel better. Don’t chase numbers!
With your Goal Twin, plan your meals in advance. You don’t have to meal prep, although this works well, you can just decide your meals and snacks for the upcoming week and share them with your Twin. If you can, work out the calories per meal and per day, in relation to your realistic goals, and your Twin can review them with you, and share ideas. Try not to stick to things you can’t sustain, go for variety and include some (healthier) snacks.
Along with your healthy eating program, it would be a good idea to combine it with some form of exercise. Meet up with your Goal Twin regularly, go for a long walk or bike ride and chat about your progress and meal ideas.
One of the most effective ways to keep on top of your mental health, is probably the easiest and cheapest methods known. So why don’t we do it more? Talking about your problems, your day-to-day life, your relationship or your job with someone else can help so much.
Your goal in this category doesn’t need to be a time-based achievement, but you can agree to meet up or call so many times a week or month throughout the year. You could decide on how many times a week you will meet your Goal Twin for a coffee and a catch up or meet once a week and schedule a call a couple of times in between.
If you don’t know what to talk about or how to progress, here are a few ideas;
- Meet regularly and plan ahead.
- Meet up even if you feel you don’t need to.
- Ask how the other is, if they say ‘fine’ ask again.
- Remember to talk honestly- but don’t feel you have to get it all out each time, work towards it.
- Don’t forget to listen. Your Goal Twin should have the opportunity to talk as much as you.
- Try not to interrupt when the other is talking, other than to show you are listening and understanding what they are saying.
- Try not to judge. They could be telling you something they have never been able to tell anyone, allow them to open up.
- Offer advice for a problem they have, but don’t tell them what to do – there is a difference.
- Don’t tell them how they should be feeling or use patronising or unhelpful comments like ‘you’ll be fine’ or ‘man up’ – that can have the reverse effect.
Another good idea is to do a gratitude list. Every morning, write down a few things you are grateful for, it can be something really simple, like;
- I woke up today
- I am in good health
- I have a job
- I have a roof over my head
- I have access to a car
- I have family/friends/partner who love me
Sometimes, the more trivial, the better, there are more ‘smaller’ things in your life that can seem like a list of great things you can be thankful for. Compare them with your Goal Twin, they may wish to reflect from them the next day.
Find a daily reading. It can be religious or otherwise. It could be related to a bad habit or addiction you had, but starting your day with a positive reading, gratitude list and telling yourself ‘Today will be a good day’ can all make such a difference in your mood.
Exercise! – I can’t stress enough how important and beneficial exercise can be to your well-being. It releases endorphins, it helps you feel better about yourself, it can get you out in the fresh air. Plan with your Goal Twin to go for a walk a few times a week, take the dog, even the kids if you want to. Get up early and go for a gentle swim or jog – whatever you enjoy doing that requires little effort and helps you to relax.
Meditate – This can sometimes make people feel uncomfortable or think that you won’t be able to do it, or it’s not for you, but anything that will help your mind and your wellbeing is worth a try. Find an app, a YouTube video or a CD, take yourself into a quiet room, make yourself as comfortable as you possibly can and allow yourself to fully relax and unwind. Don’t forget to turn your phone off or put it on Airplane mode so you won’t be distracted.
Digital Detox – There is so much technology around us these days that it’s actually hard to think about not being connected to some device but think about switching off regularly. Start small; turn your phone off when you go to bed (get an early night), no tablets, no television, just you and maybe a book. Perhaps choose an hour a day, or even a whole day where phones are not allowed. Spend time with your family every Sunday, for example, go to your local woods and go for a nice long walk, get a coffee, or go to have a nice meal with your partner, family or Goal Twin, and leave your phones at home, or at least put them on silent.
Social Media Detox – This could have been combined with the digital detox, but it’s actually quite different. I understand that we do need to be connected; if you have a family you will probably want to be available if they need you, so switching your phone off for a whole day might not be that practical.
Social Media, however, is not a necessity. You can turn them off. Think about how you feel when you go on them multiple times a day. There is always someone that posts negativity. Do you really need that in your life? If it is someone close to you, you can still be there for them. Also remember that what people post is not a true reflection on reality, it’s what they want you to read or see. Look at all the different accounts you have a try closing one down for a few weeks – see what difference it makes to you. Try muting the notifications.
If you really can’t bring yourself to come off social media completely, think about removing certain ‘friends’ from your feeds.
There are plenty of ideas to get you working towards better mental wellness, and you can practice some or all of them alone, with your Goal Twin or with your family. There are no excuses. The only person standing in the way of your progress is you. As hard as it sounds, you are the most important person in your life – yes, YOU! If you have a partner, kids or a dog, you are still the most important person in your life. Remember, in order to be there for the ones you love, you have to be there. Take some time to work on yourself, be a little selfish – it’s ok.
Work with your Goal Twin to distract each other from the negative elements in your life and check in regularly to make sure you are doing what you agreed. Swap technology for activity and watch the effects take over.
Particularly if you are reading this after Christmas, you may be feeling like you have spent more than you wanted to, or there is
even longer until payday than usual.
Perhaps you are planning a holiday later in the year, or to save up for a new car or house deposit.
It could be something as simple as wanting to get out of debt.
You and your Goal Twin can work together to be more responsible with your money, pay off some debts, save some money.
Whatever your goal, there are some very effective ideas that can help you reduce your expenditure and save some money;
Make a Spending Plan – this is basically a budget, but the word makes it sounds restrictive. Set up a spreadsheet, or just a list in a notebook, and write down your income and your regular outgoings. Needs– These can be standing orders/direct debits for things like bills and loan/credit card repayments, to things you pay for each month like petrol for your car, and food shopping.
Wants– From that you will be able to work out what you have left for other things you want, like clothes, nights out, small purchases.
Categories– Put everything in categories (Car, Home, Debts, TV, Phone, Food, Clothing, Entertainment) and then keep a record of everything you spend for about 3 months… everything, to the last penny.
Review– Once you have a good few months’ records, have a look at what you spend in relation to what you have remaining, if anything. See if there are any categories you can reduce – can you lower a subscription or even cancel something you don’t really need? Have you been spending a lot on coffees out when you can make them at home? Can you take a packed lunch to work instead of going to the canteen or café?
Do you currently have any savings, or can you start now? Work out how long you have to save for that big outlay and what you need to put away each month.
Add categories for Savings, Birthdays and Christmas, so you can put money away ahead of time.
Once you have all of that done, try to stick to your new Spending Plan, making sure you have the entertainment category – don’t restrict yourself from enjoyment.
Work with your Goal Twin, review each other’s Spending Plans, check in with each other regularly, make sure you keep your daily spending records and review your spending often.
This one isn’t always that easy unless you’re both studying for the same exams or tests.
Assuming you are, you and your Goal Twin can plan a study timetable, both to work on together and separately. In this case, working alone occasionally is a good thing as you know how you learn better. You can then meet up regularly and test one another, compare notes and write study cards.
It’s good to research your notes together and make each other mini tests. After some time, you’ll figure out where your weaknesses are, and you can tailor your studying around that.
If you enjoy writing blogs, but struggle with keeping motivated, a Goal Twin can really help you get back on track. Decide how many blogs you want to write in the next 12 months, and then divide that by weeks in the year. Or, if you don’t have a specific number, figure out a realistic timescale based on how long it takes you to write one, quality article. Perhaps you can write on every other week, or every month. Whatever your usual method is, consider some of my tips.
These are based on writing one blog in a week;
- Monday – come up with the theme, title, topic.
- Tuesday – research, write down some headings/sub-headings.
- Wednesday – Start writing. Think about writing questions and answer them as you would like to read them in an article.
- Thursday – Look for any images, diagrams or graphics for the article
- Friday – Continue writing, add to what you’ve got or expand on the sections you’ve done
- Saturday – Complete your article, make sure everything is in place, correctly laid out with all images in the right places.
- Sunday – Proofread or ask your Goal Twin to read over it for you.
It’s better if you and your Goal Twin come up with the same, or similar timetables that suit your availability. Make sure you make it realistic, and think about what time of day suits you best; do you like to get up early and write, or wait until the kids are in bed, can you write in your lunch break at work?
Arts, Craft, Music…
When it comes to creativity, it’s not always as straightforward as making yourself achieve so much a week but giving yourself and your Goal Twin gentle nudges can help you at least allocate time, go into your studio or workspace and try.
Similar to the Blog Writing category, Arts, Craft and Music can be timetabled, without too much pressure. Set yourself some simple activities for each day; get an idea down, research, get some inspiration, go for a walk or a coffee with your Goal Twin and brainstorm, make a start. Even if you change what you’ve begun a few times, at least you’ve done something.
Your Goal Twin can even help you push through a moment of stagnation or writer’s block, they can help you get the next level or remind you of your path.
The truth is, we all have great ideas for the new year, the next 12 months, or even the next day. But we are very good at finding an excuse. Life can get in the way, but only if we let it.
Using a Goal Twin can be a fantastic way to kick-start that journey and follow it through.
Don’t be that person that reflects on the past year wishing you had done something, only to repeat the same mistakes over and over again.
Allow yourself to progress, to succeed, to flourish.
Today I am a caterpillar, but tomorrow I will become a beautiful butterfly.
Together, we can make it happen, we can face the world and achieve our goals.