A new year usually means a few days off work, some time for reflection and the feeling of an opportunity to start a new beginning. This is when New Year resolutions are born and motivation to prioritize fitness and live a healthier life.
As most people with life experience knows, this urge to make changes to “be fit and healthy” often disappear quickly and so does the new, ambitious lifestyle of daily workouts and salad.
This aim of this post is therefore to offer you a guide on how to effectively set goals and actually stick to them, making 2018 a year of health and fitness.
STEP 1: WHAT?
First of all, ask yourself; what is my fitness and health goal for 2018?
Just remember, whatever goal(s) you chose, it needs to be something that truly motivates you. And with motivation we don’t just mean having a willingness to do something (a scientific and somewhat lame definition of motivation), but rather committing to something to 100%, knowing that the pain of not achieving it cause more suffering than the effort of actually working hard for it and making behavior and lifestyle changes to make it possible. Once you find a goal and motivation that strong, you are off to a good start.
When deciding on your goal you need to make sure it’s both specific and measurable - following the principles of SMART goal setting.
In other words, vague goals such as “being healthier”, “lose weight” or “get fit” are not measurable and therefore can not be considered a specific goal.
Since you need specific, measurable goals, this often times mean you need to measure your starting point before you set your goal. For example, if you want to improve endurance you can test your current 1 mile time or if you want to get leaner it would be best if you also tested your body fat percentage before you set the target. This way you have the necessary baseline to measure from.
STEP 2: WHY? WHY? WHY?
Once you have decided on a goal that motivates you, ask yourself why you want to achieve this goal. But don’t just ask once; ask “why” at least 3 times. This forces you to think and evaluate your goal more thoroughly and therefore increase the chance that you have picked a good goal.
Here is an example of how to ask 3 "why's";
"To do 10 strict pull-ups"
Why do you want to achieve this goal?
"Because I've always felt like I'm lacking strength in my upper body"
Why is this important?
"Because I want to feel strong in the gym and in daily life"
Why is this significant to you?
"Because I believe that achieving a goal of 10 pull-ups and feeling strong can help me build mental strength and confidence in all other aspect of my life, career, family, etc".
By asking questions you are getting to the bottom and the core of your motivation and drive to achieve your goal. This helps you both to qualify as well as stick to the goal even when the going get's tough.
STEP 2.1: WHAT? (re-evaluate)
If you follows step 2 in this guide and really spent some thought on your “why’s” you might in fact want to modify or even change your goal.
You should also consider if you want your goal to be result-oriented or process-oriented.
A result-oriented approach to goal setting is to focusing directly on the end goal by stating the goal and measuring its progress.
Examples of result-oriented goals are; to lose 10 kg, run a half-marathon, benchpress 100 kg, etc.
This approach is often used to determine and set long term goals but it’s important to be aware that not everyone will be driven and motivated by result oriented goals. Focusing on the end goal only (e.g. lose 10 kg) can easily cause anxiety and lack of motivation.
Instead, in some cases it can be wise to utilize a process-oriented approach to your goals.
Examples of process-oriented goal are; stretch 30 minutes per day, run 2 times per week, or even more simple such as putting on your workout clothes 3 times per week (a simple task that means you are starting the process of actually doing a training session).
By focusing on the process instead of the result, this can also be a good way to quantify goals for those who have a hard time to find a very specific end goal other than wanting to “feel good and strong” and ”be healthy”. Not everyone wants to run a Spartan race or lose 10 kg. It should also be ok to just enjoy being healthy and this is when process-oriented goals can be handy.
STEP 3: HOW & WHEN?
Now, with a clear and motivating goal for 2018, it’s time to create the plan of how to reach it and when.
Our advice is to break down your goal in to smaller, easily achievable steps to build momentum.
Since motivation doesn’t last forever, it’s important to install a habit that will lead to a permanent change in behavior so you can reach your goals without relying on willpower or daily motivation. This is another reason for why it’s a good idea to utilize process-oriented goals; starting off with weekly, small, easy-to-achieve goals that are focusing on the process that eventually leads to your end goal.
Just like with any goal setting principle, your goals are not complete until you have set a time frame of when this goal should be achieved by (assuming it starts here and now).
If your goal is pegged towards a future event, such as a Triathlon or losing weight for a wedding, you often already have a date to aim for. If not, you simply have to set the time frame by working backwards to estimate a challenging but realistic date to achieve your goal by.
If you have chosen a more open-ended process-oriented goal, such as meditate for 10 minutes or walk 10.000 steps everyday, this might be an ongoing goal for the entire year.
There is no such thing as a golden standard for how to set goals that always works equally well for everyone. Like in all situations, people respond differently to things.
However, by following our 3-step goal setting guide above, we believe you are well on your way to successfully reach your health and fitness goals in 2018.
In case you need some further help along the way to find your goal, email us with questions or learn the basic principles of SMART goals, and also consider if your goal should be result-, or process-oriented.
Finally, be specific, have a plan and a set timeframe with your goal(s). Just remember that you need to commit fully to the goal and to be excited, determined and motivated to reach your goal(s).
WELCOME TO HAUS No3
We hope you enjoyed our goal setting guide for 2018.
If you are looking for a private place to work on your fitness and health goals, we are happy to help.
HAUS No3 is a boutique gym and personal training studio located in Naiipa Art Complex in Phra Kanong, Bangkok, Thailand.