Goal Setting: The Do’s and Don’ts
Chances are, no matter who you are, where you come from, what your background is in health or fitness, at some point in your life, you’ve set a goal. Whether it be to lose weight, eat healthier, be more active, save more money, read more books, or anything else, maybe you didn’t achieve that goal, and that left you feeling discouraged and disappointed. I want you to ask yourself: what steps did you follow to achieve that goal? How committed were you to achieving it? How did you motivate yourself to keep at it until you achieved it? There are definitely many things you can be setting goals for, and whether it’s something in the gym or just in life, here are some tips for goal setting that can help you get on the fastest and most sure-fire track to achieving your goals.
First things first, generally the simplest thing to determine is WHAT your goal is, what you want to accomplish. However, figuring out how you are going to achieve the goal, and even further WHY you want to achieve the goal can be more challenging.
DO #1: Ask WHY – find the real motivation behind your goal.
It will be a lot harder to stay motivated and actually make progress towards your goal if you don’t truly understand why you want to achieve it. In fitness, not knowing the motivation behind your goal is probably what causes you to feel like a failure when you “mess up” in your progress and start all over again on Monday. Once you determine what your goal is, ask yourself why you want to achieve that goal. Maybe the answer is to feel better in your own clothes, to love how you look in the mirror, to have more energy throughout the day. Maybe it’s so you can feel more secure and confident in who you are that you are able to develop more wholehearted and genuine relationships with others in your life. Whatever your goal is, it is crucial to determine your why.
DO #2: Get specific. Don’t think in absolutes.
The more specific your goal is, the more likely you are to notice tangible progress towards it and feel motivated to pursue it. For example, instead of saying your goal is to “lose weight,” get more specific into what success in that goal will look like for you. Try making your goal as specific as “I want to lose 5 pounds of body fat and build 10 pounds of muscle” or “I want to decrease my body fat percentage by 2 percent”. At Gage Strength Training, you can hop on the InBody to see how these numbers are changing in your body in real time! And because you’ve already determined the “why” behind your goal, you should have justification for these numbers.
DO #3: Have a timeline and make realistic deadlines. Don’t keep waiting for “someday” to happen.
In addition to the content of your goal being specific, you should also be specific about the timeline in which you want to achieve it. Setting up a realistic time frame will help you move towards your goal consistently because you have a sense for how long you have left until your goal deadline is reached. For example, if your goal is to lose 5 pounds of body fat and build 10 pounds of muscle, set a realistic time frame for when you could see actually achieving that goal, and don’t underestimate how long it may take! If you are working out 3-4 times per week while consistently increasing your weight for your reps and focusing on your nutrition, maybe give yourself 6-8 months to achieve this goal.
DO: Break it down and have a clear action plan. Don’t just think about the big picture, taking it day by day and hoping for results.
Once your goal is specific and you have a reasonable time frame for it, figure out the steps you will take to achieve that goal within the time frame, and set up smaller goals that will build up to it. Allowing yourself to only think about the one large goal that may be months or years away will allow you to get discouraged and leave you without the motivation to keep getting back on track. So, if your goal is to lose 5 pounds of body fat and build 10 pounds of muscle in 8 months, what will that look like for you each month (or even each week) between now and then? Tell yourself that you want to lose one pound of fat and build two pounds of muscle each month, and detail to yourself the steps you are going to take in the gym and in the kitchen to achieve that. Maybe that looks like a calorie deficit or increasing your weekly training. Be specific, and start following that action plan!
DO: Build habits slowly. Don’t try to take on too many things at once.
Building a stronger body or a healthier lifestyle can be intimidating – there are so many things you need to remember and think about! Focus on building habits one at a time, instead of trying to make drastic lifestyle changes all at once. For example, start by cutting down the amount of extraneous calories you consume each week by limiting your intake of sugary desserts or alcohol. Once you have mastered that for a few weeks, start adding in more and more nutrient dense foods to each meal, by challenging yourself to incorporate more healthy foods into your diet. Then, try to increase your daily water intake according to your body weight and stick to that until you’ve got that down as well. Maybe once you’ve been able to do all these things consistently simultaneously, it’s time to take your workouts to the next level!
DO: Write things down. Don’t let your thoughts and progress get lost through time.
Now that you know specifically what your goal is, why it is your goal, when you want to achieve it, and the steps you are going to take to get there, write it all down! Write your goal in a journal, on post-it notes around your bedroom, on your rearview mirror in the car. Write out the reasons you want to achieve it, and chart out the timeline on a calendar. Leave reminders for yourself throughout the house, and journal your progress to help organize your thoughts.
DO: Find your support system. Don’t go it alone.
In today’s world, we have SO MANY things to think and worry about. Making health and fitness a priority is tough as it is, much less having specific goals you want to achieve – it can seem like a daunting task. This is why you must surround yourself with people who love and support you, and share your goals with them. Finding people who respect you and genuinely want to help you achieve your goals will make it easier to stick to your plan and get back on track when times get tough.
DO: Prepare for failure. Don’t expect perfection.
Working towards your goals is going to be challenging. There will be ups and downs. There will be days of triumph, and days of utter failure. Expect and EMBRACE the journey. No great thing ever came without persistent hard work, dedication, and refusal to stay knocked down. Realize that there will be moments of failure and disappointment, and prepare yourself for them! Be excited for how big you can bounce back and prove to yourself that you are worth the effort.
RECAP: Remember to make all your goals SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, timely).
This is just a nice acronym to keep in mind whenever considering setting a new goal.
YOU have the power within you to achieve your goals. And you have a support system of family, friends, and coaches who all want to see you succeed. Find your motivation, make a plan, and stick to it! We at Gage Strength Training can’t wait to be the first to congratulate you on your progress.