It’s the start of 2015 and I want to see each one of you reach your goals and beyond. I want you to set goals that push you to your limits and create a plan that will allow you to reach what you’ve envisioned. Over the last year I’ve learned some new things about reaching goals and I’d like to share this new information combined with some of the concepts I’ve shared in the past to hopefully empower you in a new way!
Setting Goals That Make Sense
Because of the huge influence the media has on the fitness industry, many people set goals based on what I call ‘fantasy’ promises that are advertised to sell magazines, books, DVD’s and other fitness products. One example that comes to mind is “30 Day Shred” by Jillian Michaels. If you read the book, it is informative and offers some challenging fitness regimens as part of a comprehensive plan to get “shredded” in 30 Days. The information itself isn’t bad, but, with a title like “30 Day Shred” it leads one to believe that they it’s possible to achieve a very elite physique in just one month. I personally don’t know of anyone, including elite athletes & fitness models, that gets “shredded” in 30 days unless they were “almost shredded” when they started the 30-day program. And I really doubt Jillian Michaels did either.
The fact is the media does not present 100% truthful information when advertising fitness products. I think most of us realize this on some level but there is a part of our brain that wants to believe the quick fix ads are true. The ads appeal to our most basic desires and often cause us to set unrealistic for ourselves. When these goals are not achieved people become discouraged and give up.
If you’ve fallen prey to those types of products, don’t feel stupid about it! You are not alone! I’ve had successful CEO’s ask me how they can get an ‘8 pack’ in 3 weeks, college coaches ask me why they don’t lose weight when they repeat the same habits expecting a new result and educated people in the medical field expect a 6 pack in 1 month! These are smart, successful people! Their questions prove that even those of us who are logical and educated question our rational thinking mind because of the massive amount of messages we are exposed to on a daily basis.
When you set your goals for 2015, don’t use messages from the media to decide the parameters of your goals. You can be aggressive and idealistic and push yourself to the max, but make sure your goal is achievable in the timeframe you define. One thing my clients found really helpful last year was the concept of setting SMART goals combined with a daily focus on the system or plan created to reach those goals.
What is a goal?
The definition of a goal that I use with clients is YOUR journey from point 1 to point 2. To set a SMART goal, you must understand where you are now (point 1) and create a system to follow that takes you incrementally to your goal (point 2).
What is a SMART goal?
Step one to achieving your 2015 fitness goals is to use the SMART acronym (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, time bound) as a guideline for defining what you want to accomplish with your fitness program. Do you want to build muscle, lose weight, improve cardiovascular conditioning, run a marathon, lose fat, or a combination of the above? Take a minute to write down what you would like to accomplish in 2015 and glance over your goals. To improve your likelihood of success and make sure you have set SMART goals, ask yourself some of these questions:
- Have I set conflicting goals and if so, is there a way to achieve both this year?
- Are these goals realistic for the time frame I’ve allotted? (a good way to answer this is to ask others who have achieved this goal how long it took them to do so)
- Are these goals based in reality or fantasy? (If you are unsure, ask yourself “Do I know anyone who has achieved this goal”)
- Are these goals specific and measurable?
- Do I have the patience necessary to follow a plan that is proven to work?
- Do I have the time and lifestyle management practices in place that will allow me to achieve these goals on my own…if not, do I know someone who can help me?
Once you have scrutinized your goal(s) you then need to develop a system of daily habits that when done repeatedly will result in the achievement of your goal. For example, if your goal were to run a marathon, your system would include a running calendar and a proper nutrition plan for giving your body the fuel it needs. If your goal were to lose 100lbs, your system would include a combination of nutrition, exercise & stress management techniques.
Focusing on a daily system as a means of successful steps toward your goal seems like an inconsequential detail, but it is actually a crucial shift of focus that could be the difference between success and failure. This is because, as many psychologists will tell you, most of our actions are taken out of habit. Habits are formed because they are psychologically comfortable and not because they are healthy or good for us. Even when a habit leads us to a result we do not want, the fact that we have the habit then within our mental climate makes it seem like the best course of action and unfortunately we don’t realize that we are setting ourselves up to make the same choices over and over again.
When you focus on successfully executing a system designed to create the outcome you desire, measuring your outcomes, making the necessary adjustments to your system and recognize your successes you are retraining yourself to develop new habits and actions that lead you towards your desired outcome instead of leading you toward the same outcome over and over again.
You’ll find out more about creating a system that will help you achieve your 2015 goals in Part 2 of this article!