Everything we do starts with end goal in mind. But having a goal is useless if there’s no plan to help us accomplish it.
I’ve seen many people set very ambitious goals only to fall flat on their face in discouragement and siappointment. I’ve experienced same failures myself. An idea would come to mind. I’d set a goal. But somewhere a long the way I’d loose interest, get demotivated and then move onto something else. Based on my experience and my personal training clients’ I noticed a couple of very common and dominant themes that prevent us form reaching our goals. One would be a lack of visible progress and second is a well-thought-out plan of action.
Setting SMART Goals
To begin, you need well defined and achievable goals. A familiar acronym in the business world S.M.A.R.T. is also heavily applied in fitness and sports industries. SMART is used to help establish Specific Measurable Attainable Realistic and Timely goals. Saying that you just want to get healthier is completely meaningless. Instead, you need to be specific and realistic about what and how you want to accomplish. So, instead of saying you want to be healthier, A smart goal would read something like this:
The goal is to loose 5% of body fat in 2.5 months. This will be accomplished by 45-60 minute workouts 4 x week that include strength training and cardio. In addition, a good sound diet that includes more vegetables and meat, and elimination of processed sugary foods will help me reach that goal.
As you can see the goal is specific. Measurable. Attainable and realistic. And there’s a time frame around it. Now you have something to work towards.
But how do you start?
Find Your Way
Once you set your goal you need to zero-in on what is going to help you get there and how. I usually start with research if I have no knowledge of a subject that my goal is related to. For example, getting onto a path of reaching my fitness related goals requires less research given my background. I can just hit the pavement running and make adjustments along the way. But if I set a goal outside of my area of expertise, such as obtain a pilot’s license by end of this year, I’d need to do a lot of research such as flight school selection, costs, requirements, time commitments, etc.
As part of your research efforts, it is very helpful and encouraging to find inspiration in someone else. See how someone else in your shoes worked towards a similar goal. Can you follow their path?
Take it Apart
Depending on the goal you set, you may need to break it apart. Focus on one piece at a time. As you can see in my earlier example, the goal can be broken apart into several pieces including a workout component, nutritional component and self-discipline. You don’t have to know all the pieces all at once, but get to know the ones most interesting to you and the ones you can implement immediately first. If you decide that going to the gym is your top priority, focus on learning about the types of workouts and exercises you should be doing. Once you get that underway, start educating yourself on nutrition.
Set Immediate Goals
As you prepare your plan to reach your ultimate goal, you also need to set immediate goals that you can accomplish very quickly. For example, make a commitment to get to the gym 4x this week or replace all pop and juices with water. These are very attainable goals and once you accomplish them you’ll have the motivation to try something harder.
Set Short Term Goals
Similar to immediate goals, short terms goals are also designed to keep you keep you motivated and on track. They are however, a little longer in length, about 2-3 weeks. An example of good short term goals would be to do X number of pushups more than you did when you began your journey. Or run X distance faster than 2 weeks prior.
Short goals, however, require a little bit more work and dedication than immediate goals. They provide a taste of what can be accomplished with a solid plan in place and self-discipline.
One of the best strategies to help you stay on track is to monitor your progress. Tracking your progress provides a glimpse of all your efforts so far and whether you’re on track. It is extremely motivating to see your starting points and how much you’re improved after 2 weeks, a month or two.
- set a SMART goal
- research and think about what it will take to reach your goal
- find inspiration in others
- tackle one component at a time
- set immediate goals
- set short term goals
- find a good way to track your progress