Take a minute and imagine you’ve decided to take the family on a vacation, so you pack your bags; pile everyone into the family SUV and start to drive. Sounds like a great plan, except for one major flaw, you didn’t pick an exact destination. How far do you think you would get before your kids started asking you, where are we going? How long is it going to take to get there, etc? Some of you are probably saying to yourselves, what fool in their right mind would do such a thing. Well, for some reason when it comes to health and fitness, many people take this exact same approach. In other words, they seem to jump behind the wheel of the car with no idea where to go. If you want to get in shape, and especially in really great shape, you need to have a solid plan of action.
One of the quotes that I’ve always liked is, “those who fail to plan, plan to fail.” This leads me to the concept of goal setting. Goal setting is the key to successfully achieving your dreams, both in and out of the gym. Your goals should always be specific, realistic, achievable and measurable. They should also have a specific time frame for completion. If you set unachievable goals—the only result will be failure and disappointment, so be realistic!
There are two types of goals: Long-term and Short-term.
Short Term Goals
Short term goals should be obtainable within a short period of time. They should be very specific and absolutely reachable. In fact, for some people, especially those who are new to this concept, I would suggest that in the early stages of setting up your short term goals, they be very achievable. Nothing can build motivation than a series of successful accomplishments. As you move along, I would start to make the short term goals a bit more challenging, but still achievable. A couple of examples of short-term goals may be something like: I am going to make sure I get to the gym three times this week or this week I am going to make sure that I eat a good, nutritional breakfast every morning. I suggest writing down your short term goals as well as your long term goals in a check list format and placing them in a highly visible location. As you accomplish one of your goals on the list, you should either place a big checkmark next to it or cross it out. As you start to successfully accomplish these short-term goals, you should begin to add new short term goals to the bottom of the list. Remember: your short term goals should ultimately lead you to achieving your long term goals.
Long Term Goals
Long term goals are usually more general in nature but should also be realistic and achievable. Once again, they should provide you with motivation. Some excellent examples of long term goals are the following: I want to lose 35 lbs. over the course of the next year or I want to be able to run a 10 K charity race by the end of the year. I happen to like when clients use athletic activities that are also tied into charitable causes because it doubles their motivation to stick with your plan. It is important to realize that consistency is one of the most important keys to getting shape. As you accomplish your goals, you should not forget about that achieved goal, but rather, if applicable, continue to make it ongoing part of your lifestyle.
Finally, it is important to reward yourself as you achieve your goals. Getting in shape should be fun. It should not be a daunting task. If you use the 90% rule, you will be much more likely to want to achieve a healthy lifestyle. If you eat well 90% of the time, you are allowing yourself some wiggle room. Or, if you complete 90% of your scheduled workouts over the course of a month, you can still feel great about yourself and your progress. Just like your goals, your rewards should be special and meaningful to you. Good luck and start making your list.