Strategies to Fine Tune your Goal Setting
Goal setting. This final section on goal setting will look at strategies aimed at fine-tuning your goals. Tweaking them to maximise the benefits they can bring.
Breaking down your Goals
You are more likely to reach your Long Term goal if you break it down into smaller, short and medium-term goals. Short term goals are specific, daily actions or behaviours that progress you towards your Long Term Goals.
These short and medium goals to allow you to monitor your rate of progress in relation to your long-term goal. Achieving these smaller milestones are an excellent way to gain confidence and maintain motivation as you move towards accomplishing your larger medium-term and long-term goals.
Different fitness goals require different approaches. For example, working towards a half marathon requires you to be running at least five days a week. Effective short term and medium term goals may include:
- Aim at increasing the distance of your longest run gradually by a mile or two each week.
- Effective research and implementation of nutrition strategies such as carbohydrate loading.
- Take active rest days each Sunday with long walks to relax the muscles but keep moving.
Medium Term Goals
- To undertake a race with a smaller distance leading up to the event. For example a 10k race.
- To be within a certain time on your expected personal bests on your landmark runs. For example, if you are hoping for under 2hrs on the half marathon. To aim to run 6 miles within one hour.
Tips and tricks
Knowing your abilities
Start at the bottom and work your way up. For instance, if you want to work with kettlebells, work on technique first, keep the weights light (even if you know you can lift more!) Good technique will help you later and help avoid picking up bad habits! Advance only at a pace that feels comfortable to you.
For example, if you want to advance to using a 16kg kettlebell, but are at present only using an 8Kg kettlebell. Set a medium goal with a period of 8-10 weeks to build up the strength and movement required for the task.
Consider your exercise routines as short-term goals
For example, one short-term goal might be to exercise on all or most days of the week. Attaining these goals will motivate you more towards advancing towards the Long Term Goals.
Remember to reward yourself
whenever you successfully achieve a Medium Term Goal. Its a landmark, a big achievement and it is very important to motivate yourself. Make it a cheat meal, a day off. Whatever you want.
Monitoring Progress Regularly
Decide how you are going to monitor your progress and record details so you can see the changes. Suggestions include:
For example, if you are weight training, write down the weight and repetitions for each exercise in a small notepad or a phone app. If you are exercising to lose weight, keep track of your weight loss in a journal or again in a phone app.
Consider taking your measurements with a tape measure, callipers or invest in a biometric impedance measurement tool.
Find as many different ways to monitor your progress as you can and write down your progress regularly, such as once a week. For example, record your exercise sessions and compare the progress you are making with weights/cardio/flexibility. Furthermore many people choose to monitor daily dietary intake using portion control, or apps for calorie counting and nutritional intake.
Life has an uncanny knack for throwing a spanner in the works to upset your good intentions. Suggestions for adapting to such changes include:
Bring your gear with you!! Running gear is easy to transport. Your goals building muscle? Invest in resistance bands or suspension trainers that allow you to undertake bodyweight routines anywhere!!
Many Hotels these days have gyms available so its always worth enquiring. Research the area you are going to, does it have a nearby gym that allows guest passes?
Check out possible running routes in the area (also, keep safe, stay to busier more populated areas in places you are not familiar with)
Don’t abandon your fitness goals. Instead, adjust your Long Term goal’s time frame. Come up with smaller goals to keep you on track while you recover. For example, you may be too ill to exercise, but you can improve your diet and keep drinking fluids.
Torn Muscle? Granted, you need time to repair, but that doesn’t mean you have to shelve your activity levels altogether. Get some active rest in, look at easier exercises that help you progress but which avoid aggravating the injured muscle group. For example, using swimming if you are suffering from runners knee, or isometric bodyweight holds to improve muscle tone if suffering from Tennis elbow. Write down these smaller goals in your training diary to keep up your motivation.
If your Long Term fitness goal seems beyond you, readjust your smaller and medium goals increase the time frame and stay motivated.
“Improvise, Adapt and Overcome!”
‘Gunny’ Highway (Heartbreak Ridge)
Goals – Know Your Limitations
Sometimes, you may find that your fitness goals may be too ambitious. For example, maybe you are losing 0.5 kg a week instead of 1kg you hoped for, and sometimes you may not lose any weight (remember muscle weighs more than fat), so make sure you focus on how you feel. You know yourself much better than a set of scales does.
Tweaking your goals
The first few months of a new exercise program are always the most challenging. Adjust your short-term goals, persist and keep the faith things will get easier with time (your body will make adaptations to meet the challenges).
Celebrate your achievements
no matter how small. Making a commitment to a healthier lifestyle is a tremendous achievement, even if your fitness goal is a little harder to reach than you first thought. On overcoming a medium-term milestone, look back to the start of your training diary and appreciate how far you’ve come.
Have a secondary fitness goal in mind
For example, if your ultimate goal is to lose 20kg, an ability to jog for 20 minutes may be your secondary goal. Achieving this secondary goal is still a great success.
Never give up
If your plan of attack leaves you reeling on the canvas listening to the 10-count. Dust yourself off, finish the round. Regroup and come up with a new strategy for the next round. The fight is never over until you lay down and die. If you are having problems training in a certain way, come at it from another angle. Find what is right for you, scale it up or down and find a workaround.
Missed several training sessions and now so far from your goals that they cannot possibly be achieved in the timeframe you have laid out? Own it. That’s on you.
Pigged out on junk food or sweetened rubbish and so weight gains goals are again not achievable in your timeframe? Own it. That’s on you.
There is a big difference between when you have missed your goal due to injury or unforeseen circumstances and when you have missed your goals due to sabotaging your own efforts. Nobody can do this for you, its all on you, responsibility and accountability for your actions are everything. Be honest with yourself, blame no one else, scale down your goals or your timeframe if you have to but on no account lie to yourself with regards to who was at fault.
Binge eating or drinking as a method or stress relief is something that happens, but not owning it as your own poor coping mechanisms is not acceptable. You need to work hard to develop new habits, know yourself, know your weaknesses and trigger points. Learn from them, adapt and develop new coping mechanisms for dealing with stressful events and situations.
Summary of Key Points from Pts 1, 2 and 3
- Set the right Long Term (Core) goal(s) that help push you towards where you need to be going.
- Work towards the Long Term goals using smaller steps. Break it down into smaller goals so it seems less of a journey.
- Consider the type of goal you wish to set. Performance goals; Outcome goals; Mastery Goals; Approach goals; Behaviour goals or Avoidance goals. (See Part 1)
- Set SMART goals. Make them Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound to optimise them and create a clear outline of your strategy (Part 2)
- Break down your Long Term health and fitness goal into small and medium-sized specific and achievable goals.
- Continually monitor your progress, so you can see change, progress and identify problems before they occur.
- Be accountable. Own your mistakes.
- Always see your doctor for a medical check-up before starting any new fitness program, particularly if you are over 40 years, overweight, haven’t exercised in a long time or suffer from a chronic medical condition.
- Have a reward scheme in place to motivate yourself whenever you achieve one of the smaller goals along the way.
- Identify and overcome obstacles. Be creative, problem solve and find workarounds for whatever gets in your way. Life is Jiujitsu, there is always an escape available.
Many people fail to track their goals on a regular basis. To lead any kind of balanced lifestyle it is vital to have goals to guide you. Rome was not built in a day and your health goals are not going to be reached overnight. You have to be willing to try new things and fail in order to see results.
The path to success requires a fluid, flexible plan of attack so you can conduct regular reviews to ensure that you are still on course to achieving what you want to achieve. Identify the type of goal you want to create and work towards, what is your ultimate fitness objective? Utilise the SMART way of thinking to help make it obtainable, break it down into small, medium chunks and carefully monitor your progress along the way. If something is not working, identify the problem and make the change.
F**k the comfort zone!
When making goals, the importance of moving away from your comfort zone cannot be emphasised enough, your comfort zone is yesterday. The hardest thing about fitness is getting started, which is why most people never even make it to that first session at the gym. If you are unwilling to do something new and different, you are never going to succeed. Be prepared to grind out results, and to spend months working before you see any noticeable benefits in your fitness. Even if you are already deep into your fitness journey, moving out of your comfort zone by pushing your body with a new way of working out or a new routine is a good thing.
The unwritten ultimate goal, of course, should be to use your goals to create new positive habits and affirmations. Fitness is not just an endeavour that you do on the side, it’s a lifestyle. In order to achieve your fitness goals, you may have to get up an hour earlier to hit the gym. You may have to prepare all your meals for the coming week on a Sunday night. This is something that you shouldn’t groan about, it’s something that you should relish. That’s how you know this is the right course of action for you.
Setting personal goals can really improve your life, and then sticking with them so they become habits can help you to live the life you really want.