Goal setting is important in every area of life, and fitness is no different. If you want to achieve results, you need to know what you are working towards from the get-go.
Use these 6 tips for setting effective fitness goals:
1. Know your WHY: Before you set specific goals, you need to know the bigger picture of why you are doing this.
Perhaps you want to lose 10kg – that’s a goal. Alone, it doesn’t mean that much. When you say you want to lose 10kg BECAUSE none of your favourite clothes fit, you feel miserable and lonely because you don’t want to go out and meet people or date, due to lacking body confidence…
Well, you can see why that is so much more meaningful.
2. Look backwards first: Sounds counter-intuitive, but to know how to move forwards, you must know how you got to where you are now. If you don’t know how you got here, you are simply guessing.
It’s like trying to follow a map, without knowing where you start from. It’s all but useless.
Find out exactly what got you in the current situation, then you can make a plan to move forwards, based on the evidence available to you.
3. Be accountable: Goals are great when we’re highly motivated, but that won’t last for ever. Your results are really determined by what you do when you don’t feel like it. When you’d rather lay on the sofa and eat ice cream.
You need to be accountable both to outcomes and ideally other people, to ensure you are following the plan, especially when you would rather not be following the plan!
4. Set controllable goals: You cannot control how much weight you lose – so don’t try. It’s a recipe for disaster. It’s outside of your control and often leads to you feeling disheartened and giving up when everything isn’t quite on track.
Instead, set goals for things you can control, such as how many times per week you work out, and how many calories you eat per day. These are totally in your control and if you set the right goals, they will lead to the outcome goal that you desire.
5. Measure – even if it’s bad news!: I can’t state how important this is. You MUST know what is going on, even (especially) when it is bad news. Burying your head in the sand and pretending that something is not happening is NOT the way to make progress.
Seeing that you’ve made progress is motivating and inspiring, but seeing you haven’t made progress is also empowering if you know why you haven’t made progress. Now you know what you need to change!
6. Track key metrics: Keep track of the key things that are going to impact your goal, and forget about other things.
If you want to lose weight, track your weight. If you decide that to lose weight you need to track your activity level and calorie intake, then track those also. Improving your 5k time is not relevant for your goal, so forget about it – or track it if it especially interests you, but know that progress in that is not indicative of progress on your main goals.