Have you ever had one of those days? You know? The ones where nothing goes right for you. You lie in bed not wanting to get up to face the day; don’t want to go to work or university. Training is definitely in the back of your mind hidden behind all the thoughts and confusion of that terrible day. “I don’t know if this is what I want to do with my life”. “Have I chosen the right career?”, “Is this the right girl for me?”, “I haven’t seen any progress from my training”.
These feelings are so familiar in everyday life and sport. But these feelings, lack of confidence, desire and belief can all be banished by implementing one simple thing into our lives; goal setting. Now goal setting is not a new found theory, it has been around for many years and been constantly adapted and discussed by psychologists.
Studies have shown that almost all athletes use goal setting to enhance their performance. There are barriers that stop people from achieving their goals. Things such as lack of time, stress and social relationships all play a part in determining whether or not goals are achieved. Research has shown that females are more likely to set goals and find them more effective than men and that the more experience that people have with goal setting the more likely you are to achieve your goals and targets. So why don’t men feel the need to set goals when goal setting is proven to help men achieve the body and fitness attributes they want and feel the need to have?
Find out your subjective goals
First of all, the most important thing is to find out your subjective goals. These are your general statements of intent; such as losing weight, lifting a lot on the bench press, or getting a six-pack. Once you have these written down and they are set in your mind, it is time to sort out the rest of your goals.
By following these ten easy steps, you will have all the goals in place to help you achieve your targets.
- Determine your present position. You can’t just jump in with the training without knowing your current stats, because your goals may be unrealistic and impossible to reach within the time frame available or with the equipment you have. Find out your body weight, body fat percentage, resting heart rate, current personal bests for bench, squats, deadlifts and bent over rows. Without these the other steps are pointless.
- Make the goals specific. This is where you look at your subjective goals in more detail: such as losing weight, with a goal of losing 20kg’s.
- Set challenging but achievable goals. By choosing a challenging goal it will lead to the best performance rather than a goal which is easily achievable. E.g. “In four weeks time, my bench press will have moved from 50kg’s to 60kg’s. It is important to get the balance right as a goal that is not achievable will result in a lack of confidence.
- Set short and long-term goals. Short term goals will only last between one and four weeks and are easily achieved e.g. “I will lose 2kg’s a week”. Whereas longer term goals are goals set over a period of one month to year e.g. “I will have lost 20kg’s in three months”. By setting shorter targets, it will be easier to stay on track for your long-term goals, so always implement them together working side by side in order for best results and to keep progress and motivation levels high.
- Set performance and process goals as well as your overall outcome goals. This could be as simple as, having to complete the bench press in perfect form before increasing the weight (process goal) or running a faster 1km time than last week (performance goals). These goals will give you additional targets to achieve your overall goal.
- Record your goals. “Ink it, don’t think it”. Recording your goals and keeping track of how you are doing, will help you monitor your progress from week one to the present day. This will help you keep on track, see if you are lacking in certain areas and give you the boost you need.
- Develop goal achievement strategies. How often and how much exercise and rest is needed to achieve the goals set. Record this down as a step by step plan.
- Be patient and persistent. Your goals will not be achieved straight away. There is no doubt that motivation levels will fluctuate throughout your goal settings. Don’t feel bad about having a cheat day or giving into social peer pressure. As long as it is not a binge of food and drink, a one-off is fine, you deserve it after all this hard work.
- Provide goal support. Find a friend, a member of your family or partner to give you support and encouragement. You are much more likely to stick to your goals and stay motivated if somebody else is there to witness it and be with you, as opposed to doing it alone and being told you still have not lost any weight.
- Last but not least, evaluate and have feedback of your goals. Look at your goals, have they been achievable? Have you enjoyed trying to reach them? What would you do differently next time, if at all? Now that you have all of the tools needed to make any goal realistic and not just a pipe dream, it’s time to get started. If you follow the plans religiously and do not reach your goals, do not get disheartened. You should have seen progress and know what you will need to change next time in your goal settings and be more determined so you get your results this time. If you mess up for one day, don’t feel sorry for yourself and quit, just recover the next day by starting afresh. Now you have the goals it is time to achieve them, starting...Now.