Goal Setting - How to do it right

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According to statistics, we are more likely to stick to a New Years resolution made in February than we are in January, and of those of us who DO make New Years resolutions only 10-20% (depending on the source) of you will succeed. 

Whether it’s fitness or weight loss or just general health it is important to always set goals and understand the what’s and why’s of what you are doing.  Successful people know what they want and why they want it, they set clear goals and they act.  They get the bodies they want.  Would you like to also?

Successful Goal setting has 5 major aspects to it:

  • Wanting something
  • Knowing why you want it
  • Visualising the goal
  • Defining the goal
  • Action

STEP #1: WANT SOMETHING

This is harder than it sounds, this is most easily illustrated by the person who has been “wanting to lose weight” now for 5 or so years.  They think they want it, but the reason they never got started was because they didn’t want it at all.  This is also illustrated by the person who wants to lose weight so they are happier.  What they really want is happiness, not weight loss.

 

STEP #2: KNOW WHY YOU WANT IT

You are about to embark on a lifestyle change, a dietary change, an exercise change.  Life, as you know it, is about to change a little so you better know why you’re doing this otherwise all these changes will just seem too hard.  Knowing the why is good, but feeling the intensity of the why is even greater.  “I want to lose weight because I almost died of a heart attack” should, in theory, give us that intense why, but it doesn’t always.  The why has to really sing to you and be part of you and be uber important to you.  What if you wanted to lose 10kg because your WHY was to help your back pain.  How many other ways can you help your back that doesn’t involve losing 10kg?  Can you see how our WHY can actually determine the WHAT?

 

STEP #3:  VISUALISATION – GETTING THE SUBCONSCIOUS ON BOARD

Your subconscious mind cannot tell the difference between real or imagined experiences, if something is being imagined, it is real to the brain.  The more you imagine your new body and what you are going to do with it, the more real it becomes and without even trying too hard, you start to create small daily actions that keep getting you there.  Here’s some tips on visualisation:

  • Go and find a quiet place and DAYDREAM.  Lose yourself in the daydream of your goal.
  • What does your goal LOOK like?  What does it FEEL like?
  • How does it sound, taste and smell?  Does it smell like greasy pizza or an Anti-pasto platter?
  • What are you wearing, what are you doing, what are you saying?
  • Really get deep to the heart of the goal and how that goal is going to rock your world
  • Create an imagination board/wall – fill it with pictures and quotes that mean something
  • Read The Winners Bible by Kerry Spackman and create your own Winners Bible
  • Every day, imagine you have already achieved the goal.  Live like you already own it.  If your goal is to lose 10kg so you can run around with the kids, don’t wait – start running around with them now, it doesn’t have to be for hours, just make a start of 10 minutes, give your brain something to work with.

 

STEP #4: DEFINE THE GOAL

Successful goal setters use S.M.A.R.T Goals: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely

  • SPECIFIC – Use your visualisation, what SPECIFCIALLY is your goal?  Is it to lose 10kg or is it really to have no back pain?  Or is it both?  What will your new body enable you to do?
  • MEASURABLE – How are you measuring your progress?  If your goal is to be a certain clothing size, then measuring that on the scale is a waste of time – measure it by your clothes.  You would never measure the distance to the next town using units of energy (Kj) would you?  And on that note, make sure you ARE measuring your progress so you can steer the ship if it veers off course.
  • ATTAINABLE – Is it actually able to be achieved, does it need redefining?  Setting a goal of losing 30kg in 10 weeks might be a little unattainable.  30kg is attainable, in 10 weeks, probably not.  Are we in the right place in our life to get going on this goal?  Be honest with yourself, the industry is full of drop-offs, people who tried to start something in an unrealistic set of circumstances.  You’re having the kitchen remodelled and eating out every night?  Now is NOT the time to start a healthy eating program.
  • RELEVANT – Is this even a relevant goal?  Losing 10kg (the goal) to get happy (the why) is not relevant, nor is it logical.  Happiness comes from within, so what might a more relevant goal be?  Perhaps it’s to eat good mood foods and exercise to help with brain chemicals.  This has nothing to do with weight loss now, but it has everything to do with food, exercise and happiness.
  • TIMELY – What timeframe are we getting this goal achieved in?  Is IT realistic?  When setting a timeframe, don’t forget to account for things like Christmas weeks, birthdays, funerals etc.  That 10 week goal may just actually end up being 20 weeks because you forgot to account for life happenings.  No one is perfect and neither are you, so set a realistic timeframe, not a false ideal.  With all the metabolic issues in the world you may need to lose some weight first, find out what your rate of loss is and then decide what an attainable timeframe might be.

 

STEP #5: ACTION

  • You’ve set your goal, now let’s go achieve it.
  • If you haven’t reached the goal yet, then KEEP GOING – don’t give up!
  • If it doesn’t feel right, then re-visualise, re-define and re-assess where you are right now.
  • But be honest with yourself, does the goal really not feel right, or are you just being a big girls blouse about getting on with it?  Perhaps you need professional guidance on goal setting and what you want out of your body.
  • Goal Posts CAN be shifted.  You are allowed to, at anytime, re-assess your goal and reset it.  It’s not to say we are giving up on the goal or changing it because we failed at it.  It is simply a way for you to keep on top of your goal and ensure that it is still S.M.A.R.T.  You can re-assess your goal for any reason, but if you start changing it weekly – then read the next section.

 

WHY MIGHT WE NOT ACHIEVE OUR GOALS?

  • Peer pressure and temptation kicked your ass – you let someone else take your ‘Why’ and run over it.  You didn’t nurture your ‘Why’ enough and care about it enough.  You let someone else’s ‘Why’ become more important than yours.  You continue to put yourself and your goals last.  Perhaps you were scared that you were going to “miss out” instead of just toughing it out and standing up for your goal and your ‘Why’.
  • Poor timing, just not the right time to be executing the goal
  • Not important enough of a goal (we’re doing it “just because”)
  • Self sabotage
  • We didn’t have the right plan to help us, perhaps you accidentally ended up with a bodybuilder who gave you a diet, when really, you needed coach who could guide you through better nutrition.
  • Our goal was unrealistic or irrelevant to where things are at.  For example: Do we need to heal a health concern (like hormone imbalances) or improve a lifestyle state before we can try and lose weight?
  •  It was someone else’s goal, we decided to chase someone else’s ideal body instead of paying attention to our own thoughts and feelings about ourselves.  Perhaps you saw on Facebook pictures of happy people with abs sticking out and thought “Wow, that’s what I need to be happy”.
  • We didn’t own our goal and nurture it.  We had no idea why we were doing it, we couldn’t see it, so when temptation got in the way that’s all we could focus on.
  • We didn’t get organised (old falling apart shoes, no food in the house etc)
  • We needed more support from those close to us

 

AN EXAMPLE OF GOOD QUALITY GOAL SETTING

A poorly set goal:  "I just want to have more energy".

Let’s re-frame this using our S.M.A.R.T goals:

Firstly, let's make it SPECIFIC - What type of energy are we talking about? Is it energy for sport or day to day activity or are you seriously fatigued or dealing with illness? By making our goal specific we know what actions we should take when things may not work. To improve energy in sports requires a different strategy than general fatigue.  “I want to have more energy so that I can play with the kids after school, I feel like a bad mum when they ask me to play and I say I’m too tired, they look really upset and I just want to see them happy, so more energy will make all of us feel better!”

At the moment this goal isn't MEASURABLE. How are you going to tell that you are achieving your goals or if you need to alter your course of action? How you will measure "energy gains" will be based on what you mean by "energy".  A measure of energy in sport is going to be a whole lot different to a measure of energy from a stay at home mum.  “I’m going to measure this energy using 3 criteria: 1) How long I play with the children for, 2) How many times a week I play with the children, 3) On a scale of 1-5 how I feel DURING the playtime”.  I’ll know that I’m making progress if these things are increasing steadily.

Our goal needs to be ATTAINABLE, there is no sense setting a goal to have more energy by next Friday.  “I have felt low on energy for over 2 years now, so I’m looking for increases in energy as the year progresses”.

The goal needs to be RELEVANT.  Ok, so increasing energy to play with the kids IS relevant (if you have kids), but what if we threw the following thing into the mix: “I have been low on energy as I am undergoing treatment for cancer”.  Now the goal doesn’t seem so relevant, a more relevant goal might be “To nourish the body during chemo/radio so when treatment is finished there is a good base level of nutrition to support energy production when I start to play with the kids again”.

Finally the goal has to be TIMELY Set yourself some realistic time frames such as "I want to play with the kids at least 3x a week for around half an hour each time.  I would like this to be happening within 12 months”.

We know what we want, why we want it, when we want it, how we're going to measure it and what we're going to do if it looks like our plan isn't working. There is a lot of powerful information in one small well constructed paragraph.  Now we know what this person really wants:

“I am currently undergoing treatment for Cancer.  I would like to learn how to nourish my body properly at this point so that when I have finished this treatment I have a good base level of nutrition.  I will use this base nutrition as a starting point for increasing energy to enable me to play with my kids.  I love my kids and it hurts me and them so much to not have mum play with them.  Chemo finishes in 2 months, so the timing is right to embark on this goal.  I want to have enough energy to play with my kids for at least half an hour, 3x a week before the end of the year, this gives me 12 months to reach this level, but of course if I get there sooner, that’s a bonus.”  Nothing will stand in my way, my kids and my happiness is number one priority."

This sounds a whole lot more meaningful than: “I want to have more energy”

GOALS = SUCCESS

Your goal and everything it means to you is your blueprint to success.  If a goal means nothing then we are unlikely to go about achieving it.  Get really interested in your goal, nurture it and grow it into an achievement.