I, like pretty much everyone reading this, have had to deal with goals and goal setting my entire adult life.
Through my working life in the Merchant Navy and the Police Service (it’s not a “Force” anymore) my performance and development was assessed by setting goals and then measuring how far I had gone to achieving those goals.
Careers could be made or broken over how well it was thought you had done or whether you tried hard enough to succeed.
My life in the “real world”, is no different.
Sure, I don’t have to have a meeting with a superior officer anymore but I still have to set goals and then work my way to achieving them or I could fail in my business or let my health clients down. Something that I’m very keen not to do.
I also help others to set their own health goals. Without something to aim for we all find it difficult to navigate our way through life. I personally have spent hours at the gym in the past with no clear goals, spending hours on the cross trainer, watching the TV. What was I trying to achieve? Who was I kidding? Without a plan, without a process and a system, all I was doing was literally spinning my wheels and wasting precious time.
Do you know where you are going or how you are going to get there?
The “SMART” way to set your goals
See what I did there? Using SMART, you can easily set and monitor your goals. SMART is probably the most widely used process and I like it because it stops you from going too big in your goals and adds an element of realism to them.
So, let’s begin.
Keep you goals specific to what you are trying to achieve. There’s no point if you goal is around health and fitness that you then set goals around lawnmower care and maintenance.
Also, the goal shouldn’t be so lofty and wide ranging that you aren’t really sure what it is you are trying to achieve.
So, the lose aim of losing weight wouldn’t be specific enough. You would maybe say that you wanted to lose 2 kg of fat in 6 weeks. Which leads us neatly into M.
So, you have set what we think is a reasonably specific goal, lets make sure that it fits all the other criteria.
Can we measure the loss of 2kg of fat in 6 weeks?
Yes, we can as we can use special weighing scales that will measure your body fat percentage. This will allow us to monitor the loss of fat and you can note your progress down as the weeks go by.
Is losing 2kg of body fat attainable? Is it too lofty a goal?
Everyone is different, so if you are overweight then losing 2kg over 6 weeks may be quite simple. For someone who isn’t overweight, this will be much more difficult and might not be a good idea in the first place.
Again, linking in with “A” is it realistic to want to lose 2kg of fat? Would 1 kg be more realistic? Sometimes it’s far better to set smaller goals that we can achieve rather than large ones that we could never could.
Have we attached a time by which we want to achieve our goal by? In our example, we have but you could see how easily it would be to get disillusioned if we didn’t. Two weeks? Two years? Two decades?
You catch my drift?
So, your bags are packed and you have programmed your destination into the satnav and you are ready to set off. You have organised your goal and now you have a process. But how are you going to get there?
Car, rail, air or sea? This choice will then give you the system that you need to arrive on time and at the right place. For our fat loss example our system could be working out 3 times a week and making sure our food portion sizes are correct.
Our process is that we are going to lose 2kg of fat in 6 weeks and our system to do this is by working out 3 times per week and ensuring that our food portions are correct.
How much do you want it?
This is another point to consider when setting goals. Do you really want it that much? Or are you willing to go and get what you want without thought for anything else?
The 4 burners
The 4 burners theory has been banded about by motivational speakers for a while now but the general consensus is that it came from this 2009 article.
It breaks life down into 4 gas burners on a stove, with each one representing a different part.
One burner represents family, one friends, one health and the last is work.
All pretty simple, but imagine there is only a limited amount of gas to power these burners, so if you turn them all up, none of them will work to their full potential. But if you turn one down, the other three will burn all that more brightly.
The thinking is that for you to be successful in work then you have to turn off one of the other burners.
To be out of this world successful you must turn off two.
Which two would you choose to turn off?
Accountability is key to your long-term success.
Without it you will quickly loose interest and motivation. It’s too easy to not do something when you haven’t got someone to cheer you on or check on you.
Another really easy way to stay accountable is to use the opt-out method. By booking fitness classes at a time when you are motivated means that you are less likely to opt-out from them when the time comes, weeks later.
We must also learn to reassess our goals and our progress towards them as time goes by. There is nothing wrong with adding to our goals if things are going really well or scaling them back if events have taken over and you aren’t doing so well.
My hope is that by reading these simple tips, you will find it much easier to achieve your goals in the future.
We all need help and you shouldn’t be afraid to ask for it.
If you feel that you could do with a little help with goal setting and achieving that elusive health goal you have always thought about, don’t hesitate to get in touch. As a health coach and a BTN nutritionist coach I can certainly help you out.
Keep it simple
This was first published on Fitbox Blog in February 2018.