Goal setting affects performance in four ways
- Focuses attention;
- Mobilizes effort in proportion to the demands of the task;
- Enhances persistence;
- Encourages the individual to develop strategies for achieving their goals;
- Goal setting is the foundation on which you will build your successful fitness routine. Your goal(s) will remind you why you started your routine, hold you accountable and most likely prevent you from quitting.
It is important to begin by setting goals that are challenging but realistic.
Our favorite approach to your goal setting is using the acronym: SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound)
Setting a Specific Goal is one of the most important steps in goal settings.
Rather than saying, “I want to get in shape or I want to improve my fitness routine”, define the specifics of the goal. For example, if you want to improve your fitness routine, set a goal such as completing the couch to 5k running program. Or if you want to improve your physique, set a goal such as loosing 3% of you body fat or 2″ off your waist in the next 6 months.
Rather than setting a goal of wanting to lose weight for your wedding or running further, set a goal to lose 10 pounds in 4 months or lift weights for 30 minutes 3 days per week.
Slipping into the trap of setting an unrealistic or unreachable goal can be easy to do. Be cautious when setting your goal that the time frame and result is achievable and healthy, yet challenging. Going from not running at all to completing a full marathon in a month will lead to disappointment and more than likely, an injury. If you are unsure if your goal is realistic yet challenging, ask others who have completed your goal for advice on the time frame and measure.
Set your goal for yourself. It should be meaningful to you personally. Don’t set a goal because a your friend is working towards that goal or due to peer pressure. If your goal isn’t set for reasons that are important to you, you are much more likely to quit.
Set a goal completion date! Better yet, set milestones within your timeframe to further motivate yourself and track your progress. Example: “I will run in a half-marathon race in the next 6 months”.
Setting progress goals for yourself both weekly and monthly will keep you on track for attaining your ultimate goal. Intermittent goals will help you stay on task and give you increments that will keep you from feeling overwhelmed. A bad day can make a large goal look daunting and make it a lot easier to quit. With smaller goals along the way, a bad day might cost you one day of running, which is recoverable. We all have both good and bad days and having smaller goals will lead the way will to your ultimate goal. Progress goals will keep you on track and give you mini milestones to celebrate.
Quick Tip: if you happen to not meet your intermediate goals or be making progress as expected, you may feel like giving up and quitting. Don’t do this! Look back to where you were meeting your short term goals and pick up again from that point. Work, family issues or a bad cold can dramatically affect your time line. Be flexible when it comes to the unexpected. Remember: adapt and overcome… you’ll get there as long as you don’t quit.
For an even greater rate of success, write down your SMART goals AND share them with a trusted friend or fitness trainer.
Remember to celebrate your successes and reward yourself, because you are doing a great job!