Goals, why we need them (to get your a$@ out of bed in the morning), how to set them (no stupid goals here) and why you’re not achieving them, or basically, how to be a kick ass goal setter.
Ever set a goal, only to immediately put it off in the distant future or take a few steps towards it and abandon ship in the middle of the process? Chances are, it’s not because you weren’t capable of achieving that goal, but that some other misstep set you up on the path to throwing in the towel. This week we are hyper-focused on setting SMART goals. What makes a goal smart?? What if we want our goal to be dumb? Or you know, zero goals, that means success always achieved,right? Play it safe ‘ya know. Ok, but seriously, a good goal should get you excited, and maybe even scare you just a teensy bit. So how on earth do we get on the path to setting an achievable, but scary and exciting goal? Well good news, below are the five steps that make it happen, all we have to do is follow the blueprint that has already been laid out for us.
Step 1. S is for Specific, as in your goal. A really detailed, specific goal makes it that much easier to achieve, not some big nebulous goal floating around in space somewhere. This means your short term goal should be some type of actionable step you can take each day to get to your bigger goal. If your ultimate end goal is to lose a specific amount of weight, instead of focusing on losing the weight, focus on the process that it will take to get you there. That might mean drinking 64 oz of water throughout the day and skipping the soda. It’s incredibly specific and something you know you can do each day and can check mark as “complete” at the end of each day, which is a good feeling. It not only gives you a more immediate sense of accomplishment, it sets up the momentum to keep you going and ties you less to the yo-yo ups and downs of the scale and more to the process itself. If your goal is to do an Iron-Man, then your first small goal would be to follow the workouts prescribed to you for the week, obviously one day at a time. It doesn’t mean you look at the entire training cycle for the next 16-18 weeks and say, “Oh my gosh, I gotta nail this whole thing.” In fact, it’s why many coaches only give you workout schedules one week in advance. Completing those tasks is manageable in our brains and gives us the momentum to go forward. There’s this really great analogy about setting up dominos, in which if we start with the small domino and tackle it, it can knock down the next larger sized domino, which can be fifty percent bigger than the last domino. In fact, if you did this starting with regular sized domino, eventually you would be able to knock over a domino that is the size of the distance from the earth to the moon. So can you see how one small goal achieved over a specific amount of time can help you shoot for the moon with your bigger goals?
Step 2. M is for Measurable, as in your goal needs to be measurable, and not dependent on outside variables. Can you drink 64 ounces of water in a day? Can you do the 5 workouts prescribed for you this week? Yes? Then good, start with the big end goal in mind and then break it down to going through the process that will eventually lead you there. A key point we want to make here is a measurable goal doesn’t just have to be about losing weight. While it’s an okay goal, there are better, less frustrating ways to measure the improvement of your health, other than the pull of gravity on a scale. For example, are your workouts getting easier? Are you sleeping better? Can you run, bike, swim or lift better than before? All of those are still measurable (sleeping more hours, exercising faster or longer etc) and thus weight is only one way to measure a goal.
Step 3. A is for Achievable, your goal needs to be achievable. Be honest with yourself, where are you right now? Where do you want to go? What small steps can you start with to get you there? For me personally, if I said I wanted to run a faster marathon, I probably would not set my goal for some crazy time like a 3:15 (fast is relative people, I know this might be slow (or really fast) for some of us, however, it would be blazing for me!). If my last marathon was a 3:40 I would probably set my end goal for a range of 3:35-3:38. If I surpass this, then double awesome! If I get in that target range, awesome!! If I totally come apart and nothing goes as planned, then back to the drawing board figuring out what went well, what didn’t and what I can do differently and how my goals should look next time to make it happen. If I set out to do an Iron-Man, something I’ve never done before and that sounds incredibly daunting, a realistic goal for the first one would probably be just to finish it. No point in setting some insane time goal that I may or may not hit without even knowing what I’m capable of, otherwise I might end me feeling frustrated and disappointed about completing an Iron-Man, which just sounds silly. Completing an Iron-Man is kind of a big deal no matter what, right?
Step 4. R is for Relevant. This one gets a little sticky, because ultimately, the goal just needs to be relevant to you. If you feel deeply about this goal (even if other people don’t understand that), then my vote is that it’s totally relevant. Even if family and friends don’t understand why you would voluntarily pass up the alcohol at a gathering or sacrifice sleep to get up at the crack of dawn to train, as long as you have a “why” that gets you out of bed and gets you excited, then it’s relevant. When family members ask me why I want to run faster, I get why they don’t understand. I’m not winning any prize money or setting any records, so where’s the motivation Bob? My “why” of pushing to see if I can do just a wee bit better than my previous self is, in a sick way, fun and challenging for me. Maybe it’s just my simple curiosity of “what can I really do?” but that curiosity gets me out of bed and making healthy decisions throughout the day so it’s relevant. The key point to remember for relevance is this: at every stage of life you should be a rooke at something. Trying new things and failing keeps you robust. Setbacks actually make us happier according to resilience research, as some setbacks give you perspective and help you bounce back better.
Step 5. Finally T is for Time, as in your goal needs to be time bound. A goal with no end in sight is overwhelming and stressful. Plus, how can you celebrate a success when there’s no finish line? For the purpose of this program, a goal you can set 11-12 weeks out from now would make sense. It can of course, be part of a bigger goal and this just helps lead up to it. We will be giving you some small, deliberate, actionable goals to help you focus on improving your nutrition, which should dovetail nicely and help you achieve whatever bigger health/athletic/life goal you have decided to focus on.
Random (But Important) Thoughts
This journey is not about perfection, it’s about progress. it’s about if you fall off the wagon, how quickly can you get back on, not whether you fall off or not. We’re all going to fall off at some point, we’re human. In fact, we will “fail” but every “failure” we go through is a learning experience if we choose to learn, grow and change from it. Having a network of people that are here to support, cheer you on and help you get back on track is what we are all here for and we couldn’t be more excited to be on this journey with you. We’re excited to see everyone’s goals!!