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Set More Effective Goals and Actually Reach Them!

Post by Karoline Kaminski BPHE, MSc, DOMP (Bayview Location)

Whether you’re new to Women’s Fitness, or you’re a longstanding member, you may have noticed the emphasis placed on goals by our team. It is important to us that you know where you are going with your health and fitness goals in order to help you get there!  You may want more energy, or you may want to lose 15 pounds. You may want to reduce the fat around your stomach, and even want to limit the amount of chocolate you eat.  Although on paper this may seem like an effective goal list, in actuality it can be really hard to see yourself achieving any of these goals. There is often more to setting successful goals than you might think.

Take a moment now, in your head or on paper to jot down some of your goals. Once you are done, let us go over 3 self checks to ensure your goals are going to be effective at inspiring success and working for you.

Check 1: How are you expressing your goals?

Take a moment to read over your goals. Now look through your goals for any of the following words: NO, NEVER, STOP, LOSE, REDUCE, LIMIT, or QUIT. If these negative words (or similar ones) play an important role in the way you have stated your goals, you may be setting yourself up for problems. Here’s why….Words are very powerful! They focus your attention on avoidance while taking your attention away from more productive goals. When words are negative their results are negative. When you say, for example, that you will “Stop eating chocolate,” what are you really doing? You are focusing your attention on the very thing you want to avoid—chocolate. If going without something you want when it is always on your mind were easy, this might work. Keeping chocolate out of reach will work much better.

Check 2: Are they Desired Goals or are they Actionable Goals?

“A goal without a plan is merely just a wish” Saint Antoine de Exupery

Look over your goals again, are they goals you can act upon or are they just items you desire?  Stating desired goals is great because it gives you the direction you want to go in but it doesn’t do much unless you set actionable goals to arrive at your desired destination. Having more energy is a great desired goal however going to bed an hour earlier, eating smaller meals more consistently throughout the day, and exercising 3 times a week before work are actionable goals that will inevitably bring you more energy.
Check  3: Do your goals set you up for failure or success?

It all starts with the words you choose. Framing your goals in negative terms creates an all-or-nothing situation, where even one small slip means failure.  If you want to avoid junk food and you eat a timbit, you have failed!

Framing your goals in positive terms makes reaching them that much easier, more realistic and more achievable in the long term. For example, “I will aim to make the healthy food choice 85% of the time.” This is a great place to start if you haven’t been making the best choices. When you open the fridge, tell yourself that you make healthy food choices. Allow yourself to accept that 1 out of the 5 meals you will have in the day might not be the greatest. This shouldn’t change how you feel about yourself if you rocked 4 out of 5 meals in the day!

Here are some highlights when you sit down to reframe your goals:

  • Focus on what you really want to achieve. Start with what you want to achieve in a week, or even a day.  This creates positive energy and momentum towards your goals.
  • Negotiate with yourself if you have the inevitable slip-up. If you missed your morning workout, give yourself the ability to make it up with an afternoon yoga class or climb the stairs at home/work for 20 minutes.
  • Remind yourself of who you are and what you want. It’s effective to place your goal list in a visible space to consistently keep them at the top of your mind…even as your screensaver at work or background on your cell phone. When faced with a questionable situation refer to this list and ask yourself if what you are about to do will help you reach your goals. Think about what is more important to you.
  • Offer yourself acknowledgment and praise when you do what you said you were going to do.

Go through your goals with a fine-toothed comb, and make sure they are positive. Focus on what you DO want to do, to eat and what you WILL accomplish and you’ll be setting yourself on the path towards success!