Do your fitness goals propel you into action, or do they just make you feel guilty? If you have abandoned resolution after good intention, or if you have a hard time helping someone else with their desire to eat well, exercise or meditate regularly, get ready. This post will help you set goals that are excuse-proof.
I was recently interviewed for some fitness goal setting tips by the team at Be Healthy, Be Well, Just Be. They were seeking to answer 3 important questions:
1. Should a fitness goal be metric driven (e.g. weight loss), lifestyle related (weight management), or something else?
2. What are the key factors to consider in determining a fitness goal and achieving it?
3. What problems do we commonly run up against that sabotages our ability to succeed?
What I shared with them is below. These are a few of the techniques Kathryn Britton and I wrote in Smarts and Stamina: The Busy Person’s Guide to Optimal Health and Performance. But if you don’t have our book yet, the full answers to the questions above are here.
A 3 Step Process To Set Fitness Goals That Will Move You Forward
“These are goals that carry you forward, and there are goals that just make you feel guilty” says Marie-Josee Shaar, MAPP, CPT, Founder & Author, Smarts and Stamina. Marie-Josee suggests setting a goal that will help you progress by leaps and bounds.
1. Positive States Make You Proactive – Frame each goal in terms of approaching a positive state, rather than avoiding a negative one. For example, “stop being a couch potato” will only make you feel guilty, weak and incapable. On the other hand, the goal of becoming more active is encouraging because it gives you a more positive image of yourself.
2. Behavioral Goals Support Action – Pick a behavioral goal instead of a result-oriented goal, because it allows you to be in control. For example, deciding that you will replace your mid-afternoon chocolate bar by a 10-minute walk is easier to manage than deciding to lose 10 pounds. Why? Because at the end of each day, you know if you’ve succeeded at maintaining your goal – and having eaten a heavier meal or a little extra water retention can’t dampen your appreciation of your efforts.
3. Make each goal specific and measurable – This allows you to get feedback along the way, which will help you stay focused. Imagine a goal of “working out as much as possible”. How do you know if you’ve worked out more this week than last week, versus what was “possible”? If you’re not sure whether you are making progress, it’s hard to stay motivated. On the other hand, if you decide you want to spend 90 minutes lifting plus 90 minutes jogging each week, it will be much clearer for you to see if you’ve made progress towards your goal.
Try these tips out for yourself or with your coaching clients, and let me know how it works. I’d love to hear from you.