We all have goals when it comes to our physical fitness. And most of us experienced this awful feeling of guilt more than once when we fell short on our goals. Here are 5 things you absolutely must do when you are serious about your goals:
- Create SMART goals
Most of you have probably heard about the concept of SMART goals. SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timebound, meaning no matter what area of your life you want to improve, you should make sure your goals have these five characteristics.
A goal that reflects all these criteria could be: I want to weigh 135 lbs by the end of the year. It is very specific (how much do I want to weigh), measurable with a scale, and time bound (by the end of this year). Achievable and Realistic go hand in hand here. Let’s just assume this person knows that a healthy way to lose weight is to aim for about 4-5 lbs a month and this person ways currently 165 lbs at the beginning of July, then weighing 135 lbs by the end of the year is a) achievable and b) realistic.
Now revisit your goals. Are they SMART? If not, revise them until they are. But this is not where goal setting should end. While having SMART goals is a good start to set you up for your fitness success, it is not enough.
There are two more factors that are critical if you are really serious about achieving your goals.
- Make them positive!
Did you notice that I didn’t write “I want to lose x amount of weight” but “I want to weigh x lbs”? It is very important that you keep your goals positive.
Whenever you create a negative goal like “I want to lose…”, “I want to stop…”, “I want to quit….”, your brain keeps focusing on what you don’t want. Instead, shift your attention to what it is that you want to achieve and then formulate a positive goal that states your desired outcome. “I want to weigh x lbs” is a good example for this.
- Write them down!
Another important factor is to write your goals down. Dr. Gail Matthews conducted a study to show how goal achievement is influenced by writing down one’s goals, committing to taking action towards one’s goals, and being held accountable by others.
She split a group of 267 participants into 5 groups. The first group was asked simply to think about the goals they want to achieve within the next four weeks. Group 2,3,4, and 5 were asked to write their goals down. Group 3 was asked to also create a list of action steps they are committed following in order to reach their goals. The fourth group not only had to come up with action steps but also had to share their goals and commitments with a friend. And finally, group 5 was asked to do all of the above and in addition, send a weekly report to their friend.
Here are the results:
|Group 1||Group 2-3||Group 4||Group 5|
|Think about goals||X||X||X||X|
|Write down goals||X||X||X|
|Share with friend||X||X|
|Weekly progress report to friend||X|
|% of goals accomplished||43 %||56 %||64 %||76 %|
Table: Jack Canfield: The Success Principles
The results clearly show that those participants, who wrote down their goals, accomplished 13% more of their goals than the first group who was only thinking about their goals.
- and Share and Update
Two other results are results are worth mentioning here as well: If you are truly committed to achieving your goals, you should not only write them down but also share your goals with friends to keep you accountable and ideally give them weekly updates about your progress.
If you don’t have a friend you want to share your fitness goals with, there are other ways to help you being held accountable. You could join a Facebook group, get a trainer, or participate in an online program that required you to track your progress.
Now that you know what it takes to create powerful goals, I want you to take immediate action. Take a few moments to review your fitness goals and then revise them to meet the criteria above, write them down, share them with somebody who can support you (please feel free to send them to me via the contact form, if you’d like me to be your accountability partner. 😉 ), and send weekly update reports.
Written by: Jen
The Online Personal Trainer for Women