By Kyle Spearin
With so many life obligations, it seems that many people default to reactive mode. It’s easy to just say yes and go with the motions, but are you really satisfied? The sad truth is that many of us want to change, but we let life get in the way.
At the heart of all great change is a commitment to a specific goal. Knowing what you want can seem easy, but if you don’t know how to manage your goal setting, you might struggle to find a clear path to achieve your life goals. This can be frustrating and might even discourage you from chasing your goals. That’s why having a good strategy to meet your fitness goals is so important.
With the right approach, you can reach your goals in fitness and in life. It starts with knowing your why, but it extends beyond that by creating systems to execute. Let's explore what makes this all possible.
Before you can commit to a goal or workout routine, you need to understand the reason that you are doing it in the first place. You might think that choosing a goal alone implies a reason, but to be successful, you need to define it. Having a why creates an emotional attachment that can fuel your ambition and help you tap into reserves when things get tough.
The difference between success and failure is often doing what you have to do even if you don’t necessarily want to. On the days when you just don’t feel like doing what needs to be done, a strong “why” can help you to keep pushing through. It’s a way to find more even when you think you have nothing left--especially when you’re tempted to skip cardio or reach for junk food when watching t.v. A strong reason for losing weight, or body fat, can help you justify an apple over chips or a run over your favorite Netflix series.
So how do you choose a “why?”
People often step into fitness and choose aesthetic reasons as their justification for getting in shape, but that isn’t always sustainable—that depends on the individual. No one can tell you the reason you need to do something. If you’re not already motivated and prepared to make the necessary sacrifices to create a better version of yourself. Inherently, you already know this because it triggered an emotion (for better or worse) that caused you to seek change. For example, a person who is new to fitness can benefit from a “why” more related to health than appearance, but for a bodybuilder, appearance can be a very strong driving force.
Choose a “why” that will help you to feel strong mentally when you are pushing through and crushing goals.
A Russian proverb states that “if you chase two rabbits, you will not catch either one.” To achieve anything in life, you need to narrow your focus to one thing.
We live in a world where social media presents us with an endless display of people who are living their dream lives. This makes it very easy to want to choose a long list of life goals that will completely remake you and transform you into the person that you want to be—and that is fine for the long-term. Today, that probably isn’t the best place to start.
Improving your life is not an overnight process, but it is achievable as long as you make sustainable decisions. Pursuing one single goal initially will help you to maintain clarity and can keep you from getting too overwhelmed. Write down everything that you want to accomplish, then pick one area to start.
The best thing is that as you learn to succeed at changing one area of your life, many things can be applied to others. As you adapt to this new change, you can take on more because you’ve already laid the foundation.
SMART goals have been favored in self-improvement spaces for quite a while now. This approach to creating goals was made to clearly define those goals and set distinct parameters that help to push you towards success.
A successful goal is specific enough for you to always know whether or not you are actually making progress towards it. Use very specific numbers or concrete objectives that can be pursued. Try something like “I want to run a six-minute mile” instead of “I want to improve my run time.” Otherwise, how do you know what to aim for?
Every ounce of progress that you make towards your goal should be measured. If you don’t have a way to measure progress, you will need to make one. Without this, you will get frustrated along the way when a bad day hits.
Using weight loss as an example, there are some obvious metrics that you can review. In addition to tracking your weight, you can track other daily habits that lead to weight loss. Record your calories, make sure that you get at least 8 hours of sleep, do cardio for a certain amount of time, and so on. By measuring these, you’ll be able to notice patterns and correlations between your behaviors related to these metrics and your weight.
It’s not a bad thing to have lofty goals, in fact, we encourage you to shoot for the stars. However, you won’t go from a minimum wage job to becoming a millionaire overnight. It takes time. You need to aim for something that’s attainable for where you’re at right now--otherwise you’ll get discouraged.
We all know people that want to do big things, but never achieve anything. That’s because they haven’t taken small steps, they’re too focused on something huge that seems overwhelming. Set a realistic goal, then level up to a bigger one down the line as you build confidence and increase your ability.
Too often, people choose goals based on what experts in the industry do—but you might not be an expert yet. Be honest with yourself about what a realistic goal is, even if the bar feels a little low. You can always accomplish more once you meet that first baseline.
Abraham Lincoln famously said “If I only had an hour to chop down a tree, I would spend the first 45 minutes sharpening my axe.”
A goal without a timeline is a goal that will inevitably be abandoned. At the very least, much of your time will be wasted as you procrastinate. Give yourself a distinct deadline for each goal. If you can’t decide on one, you might need to start by breaking your main goal down into smaller goals that can be met within a reasonable amount of time.
Systems are the things that you put in place to ensure that you reach your goals. A well-built system makes it easy to do the actions necessary to move towards your desired outcome. Take having a healthy diet as an example. Creating a weekly dinner menu, buying the ingredients ahead of schedule, and even setting aside time to cook are systems. Each of these makes eating healthy easier because your life is designed around it. By creating your own system, you are helping yourself to achieve goals.
Crushing a goal feels great whether you’re finishing a degree or making gains in the gym. As you push towards your goal, make sure that you document and learn along the way. This will help you to create a system that can be used repeatedly, but it can also help you with goals that you are still actively pursuing.
As you move towards your goals, you will try new things and learn more about how they work for you. This is very good, especially if you use it to refine your process. While you chase your goals, focus on trying new approaches and remove ones that don’t seem to be working. With enough time, you will learn so much more about yourself. Eventually, you will learn that reaching your goals doesn’t look like someone else’s simple 5-Step process, but that’s okay. We are all different. Make your process your own, and use it to accomplish what you want to do.
More often than not, when we create goals, we are highly motivated in the moment—but the next day, we have to actually do something about it. By empowering yourself with clearly defined goals and a system that is all your own, you will find that you start meeting your goals a lot more quickly.
Just remember to keep refining your process as you go along. You never know what kind of changes might help you to accomplish even more on a daily basis. Your goals will change, so it makes sense that your process will too. If you need a little boost to get your planning started, try a little Smart Energy to wake your brain up before you get started.