Setting goals is a great way to get motivated and strive for excellence, but not all goals are created equal.
Often times we hear things like “my goal is to tone up,” or “I want to have abs.” However, goals that are too vague or out of our control can leave us feeling discouraged when we don’t accomplish them.
Failing at something never feels good, and many people don’t want to get back on the fitness train after they’ve fallen off.
So what types of goals do you need to set in order to ensure your success and fitness longevity?
Here are the do’s and don’ts when it comes to setting your fitness goals.
Finding Your Meaning
General goals such as “losing weight” or “building muscle” are a decent starting point, but digging deeper and finding the significance behind your goal is the first step towards success.
Without a personal source of motivation besides “looking better,” it may be hard to stay driven.
Ask yourself why? What is the bigger picture? If your goal is to “get healthy” is that because you have grandchildren you want to keep up with as they run around?
Is your whole family running a marathon and you want to participate? Do you want to get stronger to feel more empowered and safe when exploring new places on your own?
Your motivation needs to be personal, and break the surface of vanity. If your motivation is truly to “look better,” ask yourself why?
Was there a time when you felt more confident and you would like to get back to that mentality?
It may take some digging or soul searching to really find your “why,” but it is there for all of us.
If you are having trouble finding your significance, create it! Start a weight loss challenge with friends or co-workers, or sign up for a race if you love to run.
How to create, real attainable fitness goals
Now that you’ve found the significance behind your general goal, it’s time to get more specific and set yourself up for success with a plan.
Step 1: Put it in writing
I often remind myself: goals are written, hope and dreams are thought.
Write your goals down with an action plan (the next few steps) and make them visible. Having a constant visual reminder of what your goals are will keep you focused.
Step 2: Be specific
The most successful goals get down to the details and can be measured.
Rather than setting a goal of “losing weight,” set a goal to lose 4 pounds of body fat.
Maybe your goal is to gain 3 pounds of muscle, or increase your squat by 20 pounds. Chase a goal with a clear finish line, which leads me to the next step.
Step 3: Create a timeline
After you’ve created a specific and measurable goal, set your time frame. Keep motivation high by setting a deadline for yourself.
If your goal is to lose 5lbs, set a goal to lose that weight within 3 months.
Step 4: Be realistic
Your goals and the timeline you set to achieve them should both be realistic. Don’t set yourself up for failure by trying to do the impossible!
Losing 20lbs in one month is difficult and may require you to take unhealthy measures, losing 1lb per week is more realistic.
Chase the destination and the journey
Pull ups and chin ups for today's full body workout I hear people say all the time "I'm horrible at pull ups!" Or "I can't even do one!" But then I ask how often they practice them and they say never if you want to get your first pull up or your fifth pull up, you have to DO pull ups! Use a band for assistance if you can't do one yet. Or use the assistance machine if you have one at your gym. Or do negative pull ups. There are a ton of ways to work on your pull ups but the point is you have to actually WORK on them to get better. Put them into your workout regularly and you will absolutely see progress. Any goal you have, make sure you have a plan on how to get there. If your goal is to do 5 pull ups in a row, you could start by setting a goal to practice pull ups 2x a week. Consistency breeds results.
Think of fitness goals as a road trip. You want to take a road trip to arrive at a final destination, but how about all of the cool stuff you’ll see along the way?
As with any great journey, there are milestones along the way, and fitness is no different. Be sure to have small goals and large goals, and focus on both.
Outcome goals are your destination goals. The outcome goal is the finish line, the big picture.
Although it’s necessary to envision your outcome, the problem with an outcome goal is that it is not always within our control. For instance, an outcome goal would be “I want to lose 10lbs in 12 weeks.”
Behavior goals are your road trip pit stops. These are the steps you take to accomplish your outcome goal, and these are within your control.
Using the same example of losing 10lbs in 12 weeks, the behavior goal might be to exercise 5 times per week. This is in your control, because it is something you can choose to do every day.
Another behavior goal may be to bring a healthy lunch to work every day of the week. These goals move you closer to your outcome, and you succeed each and every day.
Setting goals is one of the most important steps in any fitness journey. The first step is to find what drives you.
Ask yourself why you have these goals, and really dig deep to find a motivation that will stay with you as long as your goals do!
Once you iron out the details of your goals and have a specific plan of action, you are ready to take them on with confidence and set yourself up for success!
Happy goal chasing!