Goal setting is a strategy that can be applied to all walks of life. I strongly believe in the use of it, personally and when starting out with new clients. At surface level, most people I have come across that discuss why they are training give me a definitive main goal. Such as I want to lose ‘x’ amount of weight, I want to look a certain way or I want to perform ‘y’ performance goal. However, when you take a closer look internally at your goals there are effective principles that you can implement to ensure you maximise your opportunity to succeed. The first of which is to make sure your goals are SMART. Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Bound.
SPECIFICITY is one of the main components that will guide you to your desired outcome quicker than anything else. Getting side tracked along the way or just working out for the sake of it leads people to believe they are getting closer to their goal, when really they are just standing still.
MEASURABILITY ensures you are able to track your progress throughout your journey. If you start a journey at point A with point B in sight and just aimlessly wander you wont know if you are moving in the right direction. Giving yourself weekly/monthly/quarterly goals will ensure you stay on track.
ATTAINABILITY is vital when wanting to get motivation from a goal. Too difficult or challenging and you will soon find yourself building negative associations to training, with a feeling of failure. Conversely, having a goal that is too easy isn’t very motivating. You want to strike a balance between something you can’t do currently but something you want to do but can’t presently.
RELEVANCE will determine whether you reach your goal sooner rather than later. You are much more likely to reach your desired goal if what you do on a weekly basis contributes directly to what you are trying to achieve. If you are aiming for weight loss, let your main focuses be your food intake and activity levels. Performance, make sure the exercises you are completing have carry over into your specific discipline.
TIME – BOUND goals give you a feeling of a deadline. They don’t allow you to sit back into your comfort zone and relax at your current level. This is only a good thing, because the second you get too comfortable, bad habits start to creep in. Which then leads to losing track of the finish line and swerving off course.
A few other principles I have found really useful are post it notes and rewards. They may seem a bit unorthodox but they hold great value in helping you discover your potential. A small reminder with your goals on them, such as a post it note with “a portion of protein in each meal” or “3 workouts this week” can work wonders on your mental focus towards training. Stuck in the places you can’t avoid them, on your computer screen, you’ll always be reminded of the important steps. Finally, you need to reward yourself when you reach a milestone along the way. Otherwise you will find yourself lacking motivation. Buy yourself a new piece of gym clothing, have a nice meal or something you’ve been craving for a while. Just don’t let it take you off track permanently.