I want to give KT a BIG congrats on crossing off a goal on her goal list. KT got her first weighted pull up!!! Awesome work, KT!!!
This awesome accomplishment brings me to today’s blog post topic: the importance of setting goals.
Setting goals is essential for long-term success in weight loss, strength gain, lifestyle changes, and in life in general. Put simply, you can’t achieve something until you clearly define what that “something” is. If you set the right kind of goals, then you will inevitably put forth more effort and be more persistent in achieving those goals. And, accomplishing goals leads to further motivation, greater self-confidence, and a greater sense of self-efficacy.
So, what kind of goals should you set? You should set “S.M.A.R.T.” Goals: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timed.
When you set a goal, it needs to be clear and unambiguous. General goals like “I want to lose weight”, “I want to get stronger”, or “I want to get in shape” are not helpful because they don’t give you a clear target to shoot for. Specific goals give you something concrete to reach for, which will keep you motivated to keep reaching. When setting a goal you can ensure specificity by asking yourself these questions:
- What do I want to accomplish?
- Why do I want to accomplish it?
- What am I going to have to do to accomplish it?
Rather than saying “I want to get stronger” say “I want to back squat 200lbs.” Rather than saying “I want to get in shape” say “I want to fit into my skinny jeans again.”
When you set a goal there needs to be concrete criteria for measuring progress toward the attainment of that goal. If a goal isn’t measurable then its impossible to know whether you’re making progress towards successfully completing that goal. Measuring your progress will help you stay on track and keep you motivated.
In the realm of fitness goals, especially for women, goals tend to revolve around a number on a scale. I wrote a blog post recently about my hatred of scales and my own personal struggle with weight. While weight loss is very measurable and a powerful motivator, some people tend to think of their failure or success in fitness solely based on their distance from an ideal number on the scale. The problem with that mentality is that it doesn’t take into account numerous important fitness measures: body composition, strength, mobility and flexibility, endurance, confidence, etc.
Rather than obsessing over the number on the scale, set goals that revolve around what you body can do: back squat, snatch, 2k row, Cap City Triathlon time, etc. And, my absolute favorite measure of fitness success, take progress pictures of yourself. It’s hard to notice our own physical transformations because we look at ourselves in the mirror every single day. Take weekly or monthly photos of yourself in your workout clothes or undies. This will document your physical transformation so you can see your body losing fat, gaining muscle tone, and changing in shape.
Attainable (BUT Challenging)
There are two ways you can sabotage yourself when setting goals: setting your bar so low that when you achieve that goal you aren’t excited or proud of that achievement; or setting the bar too high and getting frustrated and discouraged when you fail to achieve that goal. Goals have to be realistic, if they are impossible to achieve you will focus on your distance from that goal, get frustrated, discouraged, and even quit. However, goals can’t be a watered down version of whatever it is that you truly want to achieve. Because, then you will either not care enough to work hard at that watered down goal or you won’t be excited when you achieve it.
This can be a hard balance to strike when setting goals. My personal strategy for setting goals is to identify my long-term ultimate goal, then to set a number of interim, short-term goals to achieve along the way. For example, if your current snatch is 45kg and your ultimate goal is to snatch is 60kg, then set interim, short-term goals of 50kg and 55kg. This gives me more attainable benchmarks to celebrate and keeps me motivated to achieve my ultimate, long-term goals.
You have to set a goal that is actually important to you. If you’re a power lifter, setting a 5k run time goal isn’t relevant to you and you won’t work hard to achieve it. Make sure you pick goals that you actually want. Don’t model your goals after what other people want, take the time to sit down and think of what it is that you truly want to achieve.
Give yourself deadlines when you set your goals. Deadlines and timelines give us a sense of urgency and keep us on task. But, when setting your goals, make sure that you set realistic timelines. Just like attainability, timelines and deadlines have to be realistic, but not so far out in the future that you aren’t motivated to get started working on them right now and fall into the procrastination mindset.
We just entered into a new year, which means people are setting “resolutions” and “goals” left and right. But, so frequently people lose sight of, and give up on their goals within months of setting them. How do you avoid giving up on your goals??? Make sure that your goals are: specific and clear, not general and ambiguous; measurable; attainable, but still challenging; relevant to you and what you want; and have realistic timelines.
We have the Cap City Strength Goal Board at the gym. The Goal Board is an opportunity to support and encourage each other to stay motivated and achieve our goals. And, if you haven’t noticed already, I watch that board very carefully. Every time I see a new goal checked off someone’s list, I give them their moment to shine on the Cap City Strength Blog. So, the next time that you’re in the gym, take some time after class to brainstorm some goals for 2015 and post them on the board!!