Woman raising arms in victory

Goal Setting

By Shannon Flanagan – CPT

1.  Set a big goal for yourself.  This is a long-term goal you may achieve in a month, a year, six months, by summer, etc. For example, if your goal is to run a half marathon, fit into your jeans from a few years ago, or 30 day workout challenge, and you have never done these things before then these are great long-term, achievable goals.

2. Split your long-term goals into smaller parts. Once you have established your long-term goal, you must break that goal down into smaller parts. If my goal is to eat better and lose weight; that is a very vague goal. I need a clear plan of how I am going to reach that goal. Eating better means 5-6 small meals per day, choosing healthy foods, and adding exercise to my routine, perhaps 3 days per week. That is more specific. I can have a food list and set of rules on what I can and can’t eat until I achieve my goals. That means I must prepare meals, set a routine workout plan and then following through.

3. Monitor progress through smaller goals. Given the above example, I might have a long-term goal to fit into a pair of old jeans, but I will weigh myself perhaps once every one or two weeks. This should not be my only way to check my progress. I would check my progress by how my clothes are starting to fit,  what changes am I noticing in the mirror, how do I feel, are workouts getting easier, are all excellent and accurate ways to check your progress.

4. Write it down. Small successes will fuel the desire to continue to succeed. By tracking your progress you will be able to see where you started, where you are, what is and isn’t working and make adjustments to continue making progress moving forward. Writing it down and being honest about it adds an additional layer of accountability for yourself.

5. Reward yourself for success and accept setbacks as temporary obstacles. These are the toughest to balance out.  For example, if you are 100% on your diet, schedule a cheat day.  It is a good mental break from the constant disciplined eating plan and physically it will give the body a reward and eases cravings. It gives you something to work for and your long-term goal is not in jeopardy.  Breaking a part the big plan by setting up smaller plans will help you achieve the ultimate goal. If your goal is to lose 15 lbs and you have lost 3 but notice your pants are loose in the waist – that’s progress and a success. Celebrate the positives, your body and mind will thank you.

Things come up that interfere with your goals. You planned to get to the gym after work, but last minute you had to work late, or the kids’ schedule created a conflict, you got sick, etc. These things do happen and understand that there will be setbacks, but it does not mean the entire plan is ruined. Be flexible. You may need to adjust your plan at times, but don’t beat yourself up if you miss one workout, meal, etc. Focus on sticking to your plan and work around interruptions.  If you miss a workout one day, get up and do a double later in the week, or if you cheat at one meal, get up the next morning and start over.  Do not dwell, know what your goal is, and move on.

6. Achieve as a team.  If you have one or more friends who are equally committed to the same goal then team up with them, encourage and support each other to achieve your goals. However, this will only work if the other people are just as serious as you.

There is no time is like the present.  Start now.  Follow these guidelines, notice your progress and adjust your plan to continue moving forward toward your goals.