Are you looking to achieve more with your fitness? Setting goals, whether they are physique, performance or health-related, can help you develop and improve. However, often we set ourselves goals but struggle to reach them. This can be due to the way we set the goals. Here is our guide on how to set goals that you can actually achieve.
Why do we need goals?
Firstly, you may question the need to set goals. If you’re happy as you are, then you don’t necessarily need goals. But if you’re looking for improvement, in any area of fitness (or life even!) we recommend setting some goals. There is a strong connection between goal setting and success, this can be down to even just the focused mindset that the process of goal setting can cultivate.
Setting goals is a great way to create a long term vision whilst also providing short term motivation. Having a long term vision will energise you which helps to motivate in the short term. Goal setting and a goal-focused mind are also great for self-esteem and confidence, this is likely due to the positive outlook that being goal-oriented creates. This self-confidence is essential for goal-setting around fitness, the belief that you can achieve your goals is half the challenge, and confidence can get you there!
The process of actually committing to a goal means that you refocus and realign yourself with activities and a lifestyle that is consistent with your aims. Having goals can help you organise your time, prioritise what is important and create habits that align with your goals. Essentially, if you consciously set goals, you will consciously act in a way that supports you in achieving these goals. Your goals become the object of your actions.
So, how do you set goals?
You can see why goals are important to set, and how they can have a huge impact on your life. We recommend using the SMARTER goals framework for goal setting. Having a structured method for setting goals is great not only to ensure you have a structure and checklist for your goals but to be able to go through a thorough process of goal setting to ensure commitment.
SMARTER goals are:
The goals you set need to be clear and specific. This will help create a focus to stay motivated but will also mean you can keep track of your progress. If your goals are vague, it makes this hard to do. We recommend breaking them down into smaller, more specific goals. For example, if your goal is to ‘be fitter’ ask yourself what you mean by that. Are there multiple goals within that umbrella goal that you can focus on?
Getting super specific is incredibly useful. So for example, rather than say you want to be fitter in general, you could set yourself the goal of being able to run for a full 30 minutes without stopping.
Not only should your goal be specific, but you should be able to measure your progress. This will help you stay motivated, focused and allow you to know how close you are to reaching your goal. It’s important to have a measurement so that you know exactly when you have achieved your goal as well as having clarity on what you are working towards.
All goals must be achievable. If you don’t believe that you truly can achieve your goals, you may lack motivation and find it hard to stay focused. If your goals are unrealistic you are likely to feel discouraged when you are struggling to achieve them. Goal setting should be a positive, motivating experience, not a demoralising one!
Any goals that you set must be relevant to your life, habits and other goals. It is important to figure out which goals are most important to you and to prioritise them. If you have multiple goals it can be easy to lose sight of some of them. Competition between your different goals can be one of the biggest barriers to achieving them, especially if they do not align or support each other.
It's necessary to assess which goals make sense in your life right now. If a new goal does not align with your older goals, it can make it challenging to achieve. However, a new goal that is relevant and compliments your life and older goals, can support and possibly make reaching all your goals easier.
To stay focused it’s important to decide on a time frame for your goal. Defining a target date to achieve your goals not only allows you to measure progress but creates commitment and a time frame of full focus. Having a due date for anything will always motivate and push you to get things done, and a fitness goal is no different. A time pressure element is great to ensure that you are successful at reaching your goals.
Once you have defined and set your goals, it is important to follow the next two steps throughout your journey and pursuit of these goals.
All goals, especially long-term goals, should be evaluated often. Goals can be forgotten about or ignored when they are not evaluated regularly. In order to keep your goals at the forefront of your mind, we recommend evaluating your goals as often as possible, maybe even every day. This will help keep your daily actions focused and will keep you aligned, and it will give you a boost and keep you motivated to see your progress.
After evaluating your goals you may find you need to review or adjust parts of your goal. It’s important to understand that this is ok and normal! We cannot always be perfect, and as our lives change, we sometimes need to adjust our goals for them to stay relevant and achievable.
Adjustments to your goals could be around your approach, the timeline or how you are measuring your progress. Sometimes you have to try different approaches until you find yourself getting closer to achieving your goals. Regular evaluation is so important, without it you cannot measure your progress and know how close to your goals you are.
By following the SMARTER goal-setting process, you should be able to set fitness goals that you are able to achieve and feel confident about. There are a few more things you should consider when you are setting these goals.
Each goal you set should be expressed positively. Avoid goals that put you in a negative headspace about where you are now. Your goals should make you feel positive, uplifted and excited.
Set Challenging goals:
Whilst your goals should be achievable, they should also be challenging. Research suggests that people with hard goals (known as stretch goals) perform better than those with vague or easy goals. If the goal is too easy, people are less likely to put as much work or effort into achieving it than a challenging goal. It is more motivating if the goal is hard, and even more so when that difficult goal is achieved after hard work.
Write them down:
Writing down your goals makes them more real. By having them written down on a piece of paper, they become tangible rather than an idea or concept floating around in your head. Having goals written down can keep you more accountable as the process of writing them down is an act of commitment. It’s a good idea to keep these written down goals somewhere visible so you see them often and can be reminded of them. A good place is the wallpaper of your phone so that every time you go on your phone, you see them.
Whilst setting a goal is a great start, you can’t get anywhere without a solid plan to help you achieve your goal. It’s important to plan out how you are going to achieve your goals and the steps you will take to reach them. Create a plan of action, and then take action!
Whatever your fitness goals are, weight loss, performance or health, these steps should help you set some great, actionable and achievable goals. We can't wait to see you smashing all the goals you set!
Chowdhury, M. (2021, June 15). The Science & Psychology Of Goal-Setting 101. PositivePsychology.Com. https://positivepsychology.com/goal-setting-psychology/
Clear, J. (2020, November 11). Goal Setting: A Scientific Guide to Setting and Achieving Goals. James Clear. https://jamesclear.com/goal-setting
Latham, G. (2004). The Motivational Benefits of Goal-Setting. The Academy of Management Executive (1993-2005), 18(4), 126-129. Retrieved August 2, 2021, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/4166132 https://www.jstor.org/stable/4166132
Lucid. (2020, June 15). The Ultimate Goal Setting Process: 7 Steps to Creating Better Goals. Lucidchart. https://www.lucidchart.com/blog/the-ultimate-goal-setting-process-in-7-steps
Mind Tools. (2019). SMART Goals: – How to Make Your Goals Achievable. https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/smart-goals.htm