Updated: Dec 30, 2022
While goal setting is a great tool if used correctly, many of us waste our time by setting vague goals. These only make us feel good about ourselves in the moment, and don’t actually produce results. New Year’s resolutions have become a common joke due to their low success rate, but if you ask most highly successful people, goal setting is an integral part of improving yourself. If you truly want to make significant changes in your life or body, you need to set up your goals with a few key components. By incorporating these aspects into your goals, you will be far more motivated, directed, and successful when it comes to actually executing the goal.
Step 1: Set up a high level goal
Start by stating the thing you want - it's fine if this is somewhat vague at first, you're going to refine it. This might be something like, “I want to get healthier.” That’s a great start.
Step 2: Clarify your “why”
Now you’ll want to drill down a little bit to clarify why you want to achieve this goal. The “why” of your goal is incredibly important because it is going to be the thing you remember when things get tough. Here you will want to create a very vivid picture of what things will be like when you achieve the goal, as well as what things will look like if you don’t. For our health example we might imagine playing catch with our grandkids with a ton of energy, and then visualize our grandkids visiting our hospital bed as the alternative. Your goal doesn’t have to be this intense, maybe you just want a 6-pack for summer, but the same principles apply.
Step 3: Add in the details
This is where you’ll turn your rough goal into something like a SMART goal. You’ll want to add clear criteria so you know if you actually achieved the goal or not. You’ll want to make the goal something that is realistic for you, clearly measurable, and constrained by some sort of timeline. Choosing the exact numbers and timelines may require a bit of actual research. Here my goal of “getting healthier” will turn into “I want to go from 215 lbs to 190 lbs in the next 5 months.” I chose this goal because it would bring me out of the “overweight” and into the “normal” BMI classification. Great, now we have a real target to aim for. This is usually the step that unsuccessful people stop at.
Step 4: Break your big goal into small goals
If a big goal is actually important to you it will very likely take a long time to complete. This may be a month, a year, or even longer. To avoid burnout, you’ll want to incorporate small goals that can act as little wins on your way to the big goal. You’ll want to set these up as meaningful markers that you can celebrate as your progress, and that will drive you onto the next little win. For example, I may set up my small goals at every 5 lbs of weight loss. After I hit each of these marks, I will celebrate by doing something I really enjoy, such as going to a hockey game or going to the movie theater. To get the most out of these small victories try to involve your friends and family in the celebrations as well.
Step 5: Turn The Goals Into Actions
Even the best goals are useless without execution, so it’s time to create the actions that will facilitate your goals. If my goal is to lose 1-2 lbs per week, that means I’ll need to create a 500-1000 calorie deficit (i.e. burn more than I eat). To achieve this deficit I will need to consume meals that are lower in calories, and I’ll likely need to walk or exercise more. Putting this into action, I will consume 3 meals a day with 600 calories each, I will walk 10,000 steps a day, and I will lift weights on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
The biggest flaw in most goals is that they are not broken down to a low enough level. To create a solid goal you need to establish the foundation all the way to the actions that bring it about. Once you have that clear path established it becomes much easier to work on the goal day-to-day, and if you are even in a difficult situation you can always connect your actions with your “why” to motivate you.
If you need help setting up this process, contact us today to schedule a consultation. These calls are a perfect way to not only define your goals, but we can also help you lay out a plan for how you can reach your goals in the fastest and simplest way possible!
Connor Crouse, PN1, PTS
Head Nutrition Coach