Read All About It: Goal Setting
Goal setting sounds easy, right? I mean you make huge goals and then go out and accomplish them. What’s the big deal? The problem is that many of us never actually reach our goals. It’s time to take goal setting seriously, here’s how from Matt Fellows the director Iron Works Elite Fitness.
Goal setting isn’t easy…
I want to be able to pack on some serious muscle and get to a lean 200 lbs by the end of the year.
That was the 175 lb me in March of 2009. Looking back, I see the potential for two real problems in that goal.
Problem number one: The goal was for about nine months out. It was like saying, “I’m going to climb a mountain.” I specified which mountain. I never specified a trailhead, rations to take, or what I would do when I reached cliffs in my ascent.
In exercise terms, I had no workout, diet, or ideas for beating plateaus. Simply, I had no plan.
Making a Plan
In our attempts to reach a goal, our efforts are maximized, sometimes even mobilized by having a plan. Breaking our goal into steps such as what I’m going to accomplish this month or week and how I’m going to accomplish it.
The only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. You’ll find that taking a goal from 200 lbs by year-end to 180 lbs by this time next month will make those goals far easier to accomplish.
Or from adding 100 lbs to a lift this year to adding 10 lbs this month.
The second problem with that goal is that it took no account of what I could physically accomplish. Was it possible for me to put on 25 lbs in nine months? Yes. Would I still be lean? Not likely. How was I going to feel when I hit that year-end with only 190 lbs on my frame?
There are two ways to react to that, a topic for another day. Likely, discouragement would have set in as I watched the scale move very slowly or muscular definition slowly disappears.
So, how do you set goals?
This list isn’t exhaustive by any means. It is an excellent starting point.
- Set goals for the near future, no further than six months. I make my goals in three-month increments. It’s far easier to track and a much smaller bite of your own personal elephant to eat.
- Make a step-by-step plan. What will you need to eat (or not eat) to help you reach those goals? What exercises are going to maximize your time and efforts? Do you need to build muscle or lose fat first?
- Set checkpoints. If your goal is to lose 10 lbs this month, set your weekly checkpoint of 3 lbs. Monitor yourself each week and reevaluate your progress. Did you lose the 3 lbs? Did you let yourself eat the donuts that you shouldn’t have? Is your body not responding the way you expected?
- Properly equip yourself for the goal. If you plan to climb your personal Everest, don’t expect to do it in shorts and a t-shirt. Similarly, don’t expect to gain 15 lbs of muscle in a month if you are only equipped to do pushups. Equip yourself with the necessary weights or other equipment that will allow you to perform the exercises that will build your body.
- Know how to get there. Equip yourself with the knowledge to achieve your goals. Your weight loss will be much slower if you don’t know that doing bicep curls burns far fewer calories than doing squats. The easiest way to find that knowledge is to find a guide who already has it. Having a trainer with the knowledge you need will accelerate your progress.
- Make yourself accountable. Being accountable to your goals means not making excuses. I recommend having someone besides yourself to whom you are accountable for your goals, whether that be a spouse, friend, sibling, or trainer. You are much more likely to accept excuses from yourself than someone else, especially a trainer. Having external pressure will prevent you from becoming relaxed in your efforts to achieve. Tell your goals to someone else and ask them to check in with you regularly.
With the New Year around the corner (seems like it always is), now is an excellent time to create goals and make this your year. But how do you reach those goals?
The difference between goal setting / having goals and accomplishing goals is consistency. If I’m not consistently striving to reach a goal, I’m not going to move toward it.
The human body is an interesting machine. It’s never stagnant. If I’m not pushing it toward excellence, it will slowly drift away from excellence.
So, if I’m not consistently working for my goals, my body will become less and less what I want it to be.
I was recently married. As wonderful as matrimony is, it is one of the biggest adjustments to make in life. Before our wedding, I was a lean 175 lbs. After four months of marriage, I was a softer-looking 165 lbs.
The change came fast and it came entirely because I allowed my routines to be thrown off. I lost my consistency in training and diet.
We become what we do.
If we consistently strive for excellence, we will become excellent.
If we sporadically strive for excellence, all we become is sporadic. When it comes to goal setting and attaining those goals it’s all about consistency!
Be excellent – be consistent.