My Quick & Dirty Goal-Setting Guide
This is where being type A kind of helps. I’m not really the type of person to just “shoot in the dark” when it comes to anything. Half-assing doesn’t come to me naturally… which is actually a tremendous pain in the ass, because I take life WAY too seriously… but in the health and wellness space? It’s a real asset. I like to get specific. I like to crunch numbers. I like to log. I like to really evaluate my progress. And while yes, this does come to me naturally, I also think it’s a critical component of the journey. You HAVE to set goals. You just have to. Flying blind… saying you want to “lose weight” means nothing. We are emotional people. We feel things on a minute to minute basis… and for the most part, we’re REALLY mean to ourselves. Yes, there are a handful of people who just feel truly amazing about themselves all the time. But for most of us, the real challenge is figuring out how NOT to be an asshole to ourselves. It’s figuring out how to drown out that negative voice in your head that’s constantly telling you that you’re not doing well enough, you’re not trying hard enough, that you’re falling off track, that you’re failing, that you should just give up because “what’s the point?”
Step 1: Getting Clear on What You REALLY Want
What should your goals be? Well that’s absolutely personal. What do you want? Like really, WHAT do you ACTUALLY WANT? Are you looking for a drastic body overhaul? Or are you simply looking to live a life that feels more in line with having health and wellness as a priority? Here’s an example of a short term goal that my clients and I will set – I want to lose 3 inches from my waist in the next 3 months.
Step 2: Vary Your Types of Goals
When it comes to bod results, I always pick goals that relate to size, not weight, because we all know that the scale is a lying cheating bastard. One of my secrets to setting ACHIEVABLE goals is setting a variety of short-term, mid-term and long-term goals and varying those further between results focused goals and performance focus goals.
For example, my long term goal might be – I want to lose 20 inches head to toe by the end of the year – but to stay motivated, I would break this into more manageable short-term goals.
I always keep my short term goals no longer than 3 months of time because that feels like a solid enough chunk for me to work with, without being SUCH a short time period that I start panicking that time is running out!
In addition to picking size related goals, I always mandate that my clients also create performance oriented goals. For example, in the short term – I want to be able to hold a plank for 1 minute. In the long term – I want to be able to do 25 man-push ups without taking a break. Or – I want to run a half-marathon. Or, I want to climb Machu Picchu. If you have no interest in working out, a performance goal can also be as simple as “I want to eat 3 salads a week to make sure I’m getting more vegetables in my diet”. Whatever – you get the point.
These performance-based goals really help to shift the focus from size to strength. From skinny to healthy. From the esthetics to sheer WELLNESS. It’s a great way to keep yourself balanced… it’s a great way to give yourself something productive to feel good about… and it’s a great way to keep yourself motivated. Because trust me – as your start to see progress in the “healthy” department… you start to care less and less about the size department. Once you can 25 push ups… you’re like, holy shit I’m a total badass – if I can do 25, what’s stopping me from doing 30? 50? And then you start to shift your mindset… you start to want to EAT for performance. Sleep for performance. Hydrate for performance. And as I said… back in my last talk… it wasn’t until I stopped thinking about my size and focused on my athletic performance and wellness, that I ultimately ACHIEVED the body I had always wanted.
Step 3: Setting S.M.A.R.T. Goals
“What the heck is a SMART goal?” (You might be asking…)
S.M.A.R.T. is an acronym representing…
S – pecific
M – easurable
A – ttainable
R – elevant
T – ime Sensitive
Writing them this way matters for a few reasons – but when you boil it down to the simple explanation, following this guide ensures that there’s no question about if and how you’re going to achieve yourl. You either do it or you don’t – and the system is designed in such a way to ensure that you’re working towards goals that REALLY matter to you on your journey.
When you make your goal SPECIFIC, you remove the ambiguity and you force yourself to clearly envision what “achieving” this should look like, which is a powerful visualization technique.
Creating a MEASURABLE goal, enables you to track progress – meaning you can learn what’s working at what isn’t. Sometimes our goals are too aggressive or too lacklustre; it’s powerful to learn your threshold and track your progress along the way. Furthermore, when burnout is a real concern for my type As… gauging whether you’re giving too much upfront is essential. By the same token, my flowy type Bs, you may realize you need to pick things up on the backend to attain your goal.
Speaking of which, writing a goal that’s actually (like, actually) ATTAINABLE is very important. One of the most common reasons we fall off, is that we set goals that are far too substantial for
Here’s what happens when you set tangible SMART goals for yourself. You have something concrete to benchmark yourself against. You’re not arbitrarily guessing about your progress – you’re actually tracking against something real. Having both short term goals and long term goals really sets the tone for your journey, allows you to stay focused on something “real”, and helps you override the negative chatter that will inevitably creep into your head. It’s a simple mechanism to allow you to course-correct at every turn.
Step 4: Accountability and Follow-Through
A final note – once you have your goal, don’t just store them in your mind and pat yourself on the back. Write that shit down. In big bold letters somewhere. And keep it handy. That used to be a “put it in your pocket”… but more realistically, now it’s a “keep it on your phone”. Or your computer. Make it your screen saver… put it at your bedside or in the washroom or on the dashboard of your car. Play around with it.
Some other tips that work well:
- If you like to journal, write (or type in your phone) your goals every morning to reaffirm them in your psyche. Or alternatively, you can re-read them every morning or every night before you go to bed.
- Share your goals with an accountability partner; when you describe your goals to another person, not only do you now feel accountable to them (they might ask you how progress is going at any point – eeek!), but sharing also provides additional clarity and visualization for you around your goals
- Schedule (in your calendar) “check-ins” for your goals and get clear around benchmarks you’d like to be hitting by that time. If you want to run a half-marathon in 3 months, halfway through your training window, you should be running at least 16K.
I’ll be sharing my goals for the next 3 months on social and checking in along the way. Join the conversation and connect with me around your own goals and questions on instagram and facebook #ResetWithSonia