Goal setting is an essential part of any health and fitness journey. As a coach, I design workouts for our group fitness and personal training clients, so it’s important to know what my clients are trying to achieve. Most people just want to lose some weight, or a few inches around the mid-section. Others want to have more energy to keep up with their kids or their grandkids. But every once in a while, I get someone who says they simply want to make a habit of working out, they want to exercise consistently.
I met with someone like that just the other day. We had the most amazing, illuminating discussion about goal setting. She works in mental health, specifically workplace mental health. It didn’t surprise me when she said that her goal was to establish a workout habit. Mental health practitioners are often trained in behaviour based strategies such as cognitive behaviour therapy. She knows the power of behaviour modification. She also knows the pitfalls of hinging your success on an outcome.
If you start exercising with the goal of losing 10 pounds, and you show up and work your butt off, but then you don’t lose the 10 lbs, you are bound to feel disappointed in yourself and lose momentum. It’s hard for the mind and body to make the connection between the outcome and what it takes to actually achieve that outcome. Lack of results doesn’t mean that you’ve failed or that you don’t have what it take to be successful. It just means that you didn’t succeed in choosing the right habits and behaviours that will get you those results.
That’s where a coach comes in. If you reach out to me to help you lose 10 pounds, my job is to determine what behaviours you need to adopt to achieve that goal. That might mean increasing physical activity and introducing some nutritional strategies. I don’t want you to be disappointed if you don’t lose 10 lbs the first week. I want you to be motivated to plan your workouts and eat better. So we reframe your goals. Instead of losing 10 lbs, we make it a goal to workout with weights 3 times per week, walk the dog daily, and have some high quality protein with breakfast. If I pick the right behaviours and provide you with accountability, you will lose those 10 pounds. If, on the other hand, you don’t drop 10lbs in the first week, but you still manage to stick to the habits we set out, you will still feel better because you have already succeeded in adopting healthier habits, and you will be motivated to keep going. It’s a win-win.
Let’s recap. The secret to successful goal setting involves 4 steps.
- Determine the desired outcome. Imagine yourself and your life once you have reached your goal. What will be your first signs of success? How will your day-to-day life change? What would you do that you are not currently doing?
- Figure out what behaviours or habits will get you to that goal. This step often requires research or some help from someone who has experience in this area.
- Prioritize the chosen behaviour above all else. You only have a limited amount of willpower. Don’t waste it on things that won’t get you closer to your goal.
- Create a system for accountability. Get a workout partner, join an online group, or hire a coach. Make sure that someone is checking up on you.
Need help working through these steps? Email email@example.com to book a goal review and we can get you on track.