“The problem with not having a goal is that you can spend your life running up and down the field and never score.” –Bill Copeland
Goal setting is a very important aspect to not only developing a fitness or nutrition plan, but to improving your everyday life. Regardless of how big or small your goal may be, goal setting and sufficient scheduling and planning is very important. First and foremost, goals help to ensure that a fitness or nutrition plan is moving in the right direction. They give you focus by providing a mental target.
By setting a date for accomplishment, there is a defined timeline in which one must follow. With a start and finish date in mind, there is a constant reminder of what needs to be done in order to reach that final goal. Goals also allow you to focus on and visualize whatever you are trying to achieve. Establishing appropriate, specific and individualized goals is one of the most important steps. Whether you wish to lose 50 pounds or gain 50 pounds, goals help to orient yourself towards an appropriate plan of action.
Secondly, it is very important to create realistic stepping-stones. Without breaking the final goal into smaller parts, it may seem overwhelming and difficult to accomplish. One can break a larger goal into smaller parts, for example: losing 10 pounds in the next three months, one might focus on losing three pounds each month. Without focusing on the smaller parts, one may feel intimidated or as though his or her final goal is unobtainable. Goals are also a way to feel accomplished.
Rather than being discouraged that you have not lost 10 pounds and it’s only the first month, celebrate the accomplishment or the stepping stone that you have lost three pounds in the first month. These are just basic examples that could be applied to any goal that you may have.
In addition, accountability is very important. The more people that you tell about your goal, the more likely you are willing to accomplish that goal. Through fitness challenges, support groups, friends and family, others can support you and push you towards your goals just by simply knowing about what you are doing. Also, without writing down concrete goals, it becomes difficult to reevaluate your path or your progress.
Thus far, I have touched on weight loss goals but goals exist in every aspect of our lives. It is important to frequently create new goals and revisit them on occasion to establish whether or not we are following the right path toward accomplishing those goals. In addition, new goals may need to be created.
They help us to measure our progress because there is usually a benchmark to compare the present with.
For example, in your daily life you may be trying to become more patient or wake up an hour earlier, you may be trying to eat healthier but not necessarily lose weight, you may be trying to gain weight by putting on muscle. There are a number of goals that are completely unrelated to weight loss that follow the same procedure.
Once goals are established, it is then important to know how you are going to measure your goal. Without an appropriate way to measure progress, it becomes difficult to stay on track. If the goal is more broad and less concrete, for example being more patient in your everyday life, how will this be measured?
There are a number of ways that you can go about this, whether it is counting the number of times that you become impatient or agitated on a daily basis or the extent to which you become anxious in a situation. Maybe you would like to focus on how long it takes to reach this point of restlessness. It is in our human nature to become impatient and irritated but trying to manage this emotion better is possible with time and practice.
Also, scheduling and planning becomes increasingly important once concrete goals are formed.
If the goal is to gain or lose weight, how is this going to be done? Making a schedule for nutrition and fitness are important aspects to achieving this goal. If you goal is to become healthier through eating more nutritiously, making grocery lists and healthy recipes are important parts in the planning process.
One of the last steps includes reevaluating your progress and goals. Once you have reached your goal, you are not done. From that point, there is always a new goal to achieve or improve upon. For example, if you wish to lose 50 pounds in the next year, once you reach that goal, you are not done. At that point, you may want to maintain that weight, put on more muscle or increase your cardio… The journey does not end.
Keeping a journal is one of the greatest ways to tackle your goals. Evaluating progress on a nightly, bi-nightly or weekly basis is important. The more frequently you track and evaluate your progress, the better. You can track your setbacks, progress, and challenges and remind yourself how you can overcome these difficulties the next time that you may be confronted with them. It is also a good way to go back and see how far you have come. Finally and most importantly be honest with yourself and your progress! Happy goal setting!
“If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.” –Zig Ziglar