Setting goals is the first step in accomplishing any major task. However, depending on what type of goals you set, you could already be setting yourself up for disappointment. Here are a few things I like to keep in mind when setting fitness (or really, any) goals.
Reach your goals with these 7 tips
Tip #1 - START with goals YOU have control over
“Carve out 6-pack abs.” “Finish top 10 in next marathon.” “Lose 10 lbs in 6 months.” Those are all great goals, BUT you don’t have direct control over any of them. Rather than set yourself up for disappointment, focus on goals that you have direct control over.
Goals like “Workout 5 days a week”, “Prepare healthy meals for the entire week”, “Only eat out once this week”, are all great goals to focus on. By focusing on what you can control, you’re less likely to get discouraged and throw in the towel.
Tip #2 - Split goals up between short term and long term
I don’t know about you, but I really enjoy a challenge. Few things drive me more than setting a goal I don’t think I can accomplish, then laying out the groundwork to accomplish it. I know this seems like the complete opposite of my previous piece of advice, but hear me out. You should START with simple goals that you have control over so you can see your progress and feel good about every step you’ve taken in the right direction.
At the same time, don’t be afraid to reach for the stars. Just remember not to be discouraged if you don’t accomplish a really difficult goal the first time around. That’s why it’s called a challenge. Chances are, if you didn’t knock down that goal the first time, you probably learned something valuable that will take you one step closer to achieving it the next time. Just remember- “If you’ve never failed, you’ve never tried anything new”.
Tip #3 - Set a timeline for your goals
By setting a specific timeline for your goals, you’re more likely to stay on track. Setting a timeline solidifies the goal. It moves your thought process from thinking of the goal as something that MAY happen in the future to something that is actively happening right now.
Sign up for a triathlon, bodybuilding competition, or one of the popular themed races- where themes range from mud to zombies to princess tutus and everything in between. Once you send in your registration, not only do you have something to look forward to and work toward, but you also have a solid date and timeline set.
Tip #4 - Be specific
“I’m going to eat vegetables with every meal” is much more likely to happen than “I’m going to eat healthier”. By setting specific goals, you’re more likely to accomplish them since you know exactly what you need to do.
Tip #5 - Find your purpose
“Getting shredded for the beach” may have been your initial goal- and that’s fine, but personally, I’ve found that unless there is a greater purpose, the goal doesn’t mean as much - which may result in you abandoning it all together.
For me, it was easy- I wanted to set a good example for my babies. I didn’t want them to go through the same struggles I did to get healthy. I still struggle with it sometimes because for so many years, consuming overly processed foods and sugary lattes was the norm for me.
I want a healthy lifestyle to be second nature for them. Young children WATCH your every move and often mimic it exactly. It absolutely warmed my heart when I asked my 3 1/2 year old daughter if she was ready to go upstairs- after watching me workout- and she said “Hold on, mommy. I’ve got one more set”.
Tip #6 - Don’t dwell on shortcomings
We all have off days. Heck, I fall head first off the wagon sometimes- won’t work out for days, and eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and Ritz crackers because I failed to plan that week. That’s not ideal, but it’s OK. It happens.
And when that happens, own it - then move on. Dwelling on your failures- or worse, making excuses for them, won’t help you move forward a single step. Accept the failure, access why you failed, and move forward from there.
Tip #7 - Celebrate small (and big) victories
No matter how much you think you’ve failed, there’s always SOMETHING you did right. Focus on that when it feels like all else has gone wrong. Giving up on your fitness goals after a bad day is like slashing three of your tires because you got one flat. Celebrate your small victories - they'll be the ones keeping you on track with your goals- so before you know it, you'll be celebrating the big ones.
That’s it! That’s all I’ve got. Happy goal setting. Set goals. Knock ‘em down. But also remember that at the end of the day, all we can do is our best. And if that wasn’t good enough today, there’s always tomorrow.