Goals: Why They’re Important and How To Set Them

Goals.

Not football goals, I don’t think anyone is looking forward to seeing any more of that after the hyped calamity of the summer football tournament.

No, these are some other, maybe more intimidating type of goal you’re more familiar with:

Objective goals.

 

Success

 

Many people I know, including myself at times, go about an objective without setting themselves goals.

For instance, I know people want to get fitter, and I see them going to the gym, working their ass off and coming back sweaty. FANTASTIC STUFF. Really, it is! But the reason some of those people aren’t achieving what they want is because they lack a goal, an objective or a specific measurable point at which they know they’re making progress.

Imagine you got in the car, you’re not going to get anywhere specific at all if you just wanted to go for a drive. That’s joy-riding. You’re driving around, no real objective in mind other than to pass time, have a bit of fun and drive.

The minute you type in the sat-nav your end destination you start to have a better idea instantly of the direction to go, maybe even how long it will take and if it’s achievable.

Forget the metaphor for a minute though. It’s exactly the same in all your health and fitness goals.

Up until about 2 weeks ago I was ‘joy-riding’ in my training. Going every day, doing the good stuff, the hard training, the right foods. But I didn’t have a reason as to why I wanted to do it other than I really enjoyed the lifestyle of being healthy and trying to get massive. Give me time ye… 😉

But the point is when you’re joy-riding you lose focus, start playing around, maybe even get into some trouble and lose the enthusiasm. It’s easy done as you don’t really know what you’re aiming for. That happened to me, cruise-mode, questioning why I’m training. I needed some structure for sure!

Goals allow you to have a clear focus on what you want to achieve, something on paper or in your head you can commit to.

The other benefits of setting a goal are:

  • Effective use of time
  • Clearer decision making, ie – ‘Does this move me closer towards my goal?’
  • Better communication with other, clarifying what you’re doing is the right thing.
  • Being held accountable to your words.
  • Acts as motivation.

There are many more, some can be found here.

Now you’re starting to think about goals that you’re wanting to achieve. Celebrate, you’re one step closer!!

 

celebrate

 

You’re starting to get an idea of a goal you want. But now you need to take into consideration the context of your goal. You want to train towards a competition/event next month or you want to train to shift a bit of weight maybe? You need to break it down now, you’re not going to achieve your end goal overnight, you may do but if you do I personally believe the end goal wasn’t ever that big, but what you will achieve are the targets you set every day.

The way you break it down is using the oh so familiar corporate slogan and training method: Setting SMART objectives.

I’m not saying you’re not clever, chill, that’s not what SMART is, it’s an acronym standing for:

  • Specific – Clearly define your goal, what the hell is it? Quantify it, state it!! For example lose 10lbs fat in total, maybe 20lbs? You want to increase business sales by £5000 a year, maybe £10,000. The choice is yours and is applicable to every situation. Specifically state your goal and then you can break it down from there. All of a sudden that 10lbs of fat in a month doesn’t seem so daunting, that’s 2lbs a week! When you put a specific number on it it instead of vaguity you’ll be more encouraged. Easy 😉 I’m getting ahead of myself though…
  • Measurable – This is where you need to be able to track your goal. Is there a way you can measure it, to check in to see that you’re on or off track? If you can’t measure it you can’t follow it. Get into a habit of following your goals closely, not obsessively. But this is the key. You may have a goal that shouts ‘But I just want to get in shape’. Instead, re-frame your mind. If you know you can run a kilometer in ten minutes, or whatever time, make a 5-week goal and say I want to get it down to 8 minutes in that time, or have no walking rests in between. Instead you’re starting to make ways to measure your goals and they should tie in with you previous ‘Get in shape’ goal.
  • Actionable – In the situation of goal setting the word actionable is instead quite appropriate. Make your goal actionable. In simple terms, you may want to run 5km as a goal. but make sure you make it actionable by saying how you will achieve it. For instance ‘I’ll achieve this by running 3 times a week, 1 day can be 40 minutes, the other two can be a faster 30-35 minutes’. By stretching yourself and identifying how you can achieve it you’re ensuring you’re at least doing something to advance towards that goal and not plateauing. Do some research into your goal and how you can achieve it. 🙂
  • Realistic – No offence but you won’t lose 3 stone in a week. Your goal has to be realistic. Make sure you set a truly realistic goal, it’s way more realistic to meet a goal of 3lbs a week, that’s a stone a month, if that’s your goal, and 3lbs a week is probably the peak of fat burning capacity without harming yourself or making your nutrition an absolute nightmare.
  • Timely – Make your goal time bound so you commit to it better and drive yourself. Don’t get lazy with this, a healthy lifestyle is a lifestyle CHANGE, not a whimsical diet. You’re here for changing your life to be a better human, not for the next fad diet. Hard truth. If you set sensible time-frame to achieve your goal, you can really reverse backwards and see what actions you need to take daily to push you over that goal in the time frame, but push yourself, don’t get lazy. One metaphor on timeliness I saw once were children brushing leaves in a garden. Four kids, a tonne of leaves, each gets paid £5 and asked to do it in 2 hours. Easily done, with time to spare. All of a sudden next month the home owner only has half an hour, and will still pay them the same. Well, you best believe it, those children did everything they could to achieve it in half an hour, AND get the same money for less time of work. Job done. Set an efficient timely goal, not too short not too long, but if you make it too long you’ll always find a way to drag it out. WTF were those kids doing in two hours? Don’t mess about.

 

So there you go. Incorporate the SMART acronym into your goals and you’ll find all of a sudden a mountain may actually seem like a a mini molehill. You know the expression.

“A goal properly set is halfway reached.” ~ Zig Ziglar

Here’s a couple examples of realistic goals: ‘I want to run a mile consistently under 6 minutes 30 with considerable ease, within two months. I’ll run a mile on top of my workout three times a week, one day go hard twice, one day go for 2 miles at a steady 7-minute pace. After 3 weeks I’ll test my mile by doing one mile every 20 minutes for an hour to monitor my progress.’

 

‘I want to lose half a stone of weight in a month (6lbs). This can be done by losing 1.25lbs a week and tracked using MyFitnessPal food tracker. I’ll do this by monitoring my nutrition and keeping it at a level to sustain 1.25lbs a week and at the end of the week re-evaluate how much closer I am to my goal.’

Slightly lengthy yes but this is what works for me, and incorporates the strategies above. Make sure you get specific, and make it time bound, but, most importantly, make it achievable.

Just remember, you’re in this for the lifestyle change for health and fitness goals, not a quick fix that comes loose two months down the line. Remember that and you’ll smash your goals and get what you want in life, that’s why we’re here, right?

Charge up team!

Thanks.

 

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