Please excuse the silly Olympic-inspired pun. I am absolutely addicted to watching the games regardless of the sport. What a rush it must be to compete on that stage, but I digress.
Cheesy pun aside, goals are one of the most important things you can set on the road to health and fitness success. Not only do goals help you to determine and define what is important to you, but also give you something specific to strive and focus on when things get tough.
Like other aspects of fitness and nutrition, goals are extremely personal and different for everyone. Some people may have advanced fitness goals while others just want to get off the couch every day. Whatever your fitness level, goals can be beneficial keeping you focused and driven in your workouts and in life.
The first step in creating your goals is figuring out what you value. Do you want to lose weight? Gain muscle size? Run for 30 minutes without stopping? Whatever it is, finding what is important is the beginning of successful goal setting.
So what is a good goal? As I said before, goals are highly personal, but pulling from my business school background, I have a few guidelines to follow when formulating goals. Just remember SMART:
1. Specific. The goal must be specific to be effective. For example, “I want to lose weight,” while this is a great start, it is entirely too vague. How much weight do you want to lose? By when? Being too vague will make it easy to make excuses.
2. Measurable. The goal also must be measurable to be effective. Let’s go back to the previous example “I want to lose weight.” While this is a good start, “I want to lose 5 lbs” would be even better. The addition of the weight helps to further focus the goal.
3. Attainable. The goal must be something that you can attain. While I am all about shooting for the stars and dreaming big, if a goal is nearly impossible to attain I will become discouraged and likely give up. “I want to lose 20 lbs in a week” would be an example of an impossible goal to attain (in a healthy way).
4. Realistic. Right along with attainable, the goal must be realistic. The goal must be something you are truly willing to sacrifice and strive for. If you are not willing to take the steps necessary to reach the goal, you must reconsider the goal.
5. Timely. The goal must have some sort of time constraint. “I want to lose 5 lbs” is specific, measurable, attainable, and realistic, but when does it need to be completed? In 5 years? Time constraints can help to keep you on track and focused. Depending on your goals, you can split them up into long-term and short-term goals. Long-term goals are those that are over a year away.
You’ve developed your goals and written them down, both long and short-term, they are SMART, and you are excited about your future. Now what?
Perhaps one of the most important things you can do at this point is create an action plan. How are you going to reach your goals? What things do you need to do to help see success? For example, if you want to run everyday, you may need to get a workout partner to keep you accountable. Whatever you need, now is the time to plan ahead to help you reach those goals.
Still stuck? Here are some examples of my long and short-term goals:
1. Do 20 body-weight pull ups by December.
2. Run a sub-21 minute 5 k by May 2013
3. Make at least one new clean recipe per week.
4. Go to hot yoga at least once a week.
1. Qualify for the CrossFit Games.
2. Compete in a figure competition.
3. Run at least one mile per day for 365 days.
My final tip for goal setting is make sure the goals are down on paper and hung where you will see them. I hang mine on my bulletin board next to my refrigerator.
Where will you hang yours?