A Goal without a plan is just a wish
A guide to goal setting
When you are going on a new, revised or reworked health and fitness journey you need to think about the aim or goal to what you are doing.
- Why are you doing it?
- What do you want to get out of it?
Goal Setting should be first on the list. This may seem simple enough, set a few goals and off you start, but you would be surprised about how many people fail because of poorly set goals.
The key to any success is setting realistic and achievable goals and a plan to how you will succeed with your goals - A Goal without a plan is just a dream or a wish.
Goal setting in health and fitness is no different than for anything else in your life, and goes back to the good old rule of SMART.
Specific – Be specific when setting goals, what do you want to achieve? how are you going to achieve these goals?, break the goals up into smaller goals, short, medium, any long term, make them directional - working towards something, write them down.
Make a progressive plan. By continuing to set smaller goals you will be constantly achieving and reaping the natural highs that come with achievement. Encouraging you to continue with your goals & progression.
Don’t just say you want to lose weight without setting steps to achieving this. Be more specific, how much weight do you want to lose, why do you want to lose this, how will you achieve this?
Weight is not always the healthiest focus, think about size, fat, health, lifestyle.
Measurable – Ensure that your goals are measurable, that you know your starting point and that you know where you want to finish and the steps along the way. Take measurements, body fat, fitness level, health screens. How do you want to improve on these. You may be happy with your weight but want to be lower body fat and more toned.
How are you going to record your goals?
It is often a good idea to set a couple of measures, your weight can go up with lean muscle mass and more exercise but your body fat can go down so you may want to include body fat and lean muscle mass measurements alongside weight or a health marker
Achievable / Attainable – What are you willing to do to reach your goals? Have you got what it takes to achieve them? Have you the skill, ability, motivation to attain your goals?
If to reach your nutrition goals you need to eat 10 portions of fruit and vegetables a day but you are allergic to fruit and vegetables, then your goal is unattainable. If your goal is to become a professional football player but you do not have the natural ability & skill, then again it is unattainable. Think about what is in your reach, but at the same time challenge yourself to be better.
Realistic – Is the goal realistic? If you have set you goal, broken it down into smaller goals and how you are to achieve them. You have the skill and ability to achieve them, you are highly motivated to succeed but your goal requires you to undertake 10 hours of exercise a week but you have a hectic job and have family commitments it is probably unrealistic. Your priorities and commitments make your goal unrealistic.
So what do you do, give up on your goal? or do you adjust your goal? or maybe adjust the timescales to achieve your goals
Time – continuing from realistic. Each goal, short term and long term needs to have timescales. How can you know if your goal is realistic or has even been reached if it hasn’t a time target or limit.
Goal Setting – Why is it important to get it right?
Without fully evaluating your goal and making it specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time bound it has no real purpose. By following SMART you can see where you are starting, where you want to go, what it takes and what to do to get there.
Each short term goal achieved makes you one step closer to your long term goal, and more motivated to get there. If your goal is too broad with no measurability it can be very easy to lose motivation and not achieve your long term aim.
Turning Outcome based goals into Behavioural goals
An outcome goal is a goal with a specific ending / outcome. For example to lose a stone in weight, or to improve my fitness by 10%. A behavioural goal is a goal aimed at undertaking a behaviour. For example to commit to 5 hours of exercise a week or to eat breakfast every day.
Having an outcome based goals can be very difficult to control and achieve without behavioural goals. Behavioural goals are much more controllable and allow you to take control and be accountable for your success.
Each outcome goal can be broken down into behaviours required to achieve that goal and by committing to those behaviours you are on you way to achieving your outcome goals - The key to any success of outcome goals is understanding the behaviours and habits required to achieve.
Behavioural goals can also be a tool to help you decide if your goals are achievable and realistic. If the behaviours required are unrealistic or unachievable then so are the goals or at least the timescales.