We have all done it before…you set a goal, go after it with a vengeance for 3-5 days and then lose your motivation or circumstance get in the way.
Some will tell you that you just didn’t want it bad enough when in reality you may have trained your brain to quite before you even got started. The scary thing is, you may not realize that you are sabotaging yourself.
When someone ask you, “What are your goals?”, what is your first thought?
That’s easy, lose weight, get stronger, fit into my size 8 jeans, right? Wrong…choosing the goal wisely is actually the most important part of goal achievement. In fact, I suggest that you don’t choose a big lofty goal at all.
The problem with lofty goals is that they can actually teach us to not hit our goals at all. Take for example, a person who wants to lose 10 pounds…
You decide to commit to an exercise program, eat better, and you are serious this time. You set a goal of losing 4 pounds in 4 weeks. That’s a SMART goal, right?
So, you hit the gym 3 days a week, lifting weights and doing your cardio minutes. You eat salads for lunch, and kick the Mountain Dew habit. The first week, you lose a pound, success! The second week you don’t lose anything, yet you still stick with the workouts and healthy eating. You are a little bummed, but still determined.
The third week, you actually gain a pound, how can that be? Seriously, why isn’t it working? You tell yourself, “Maybe next week will be better”. You cheat a little on your diet, and you skip a workout this week. After all, you have been so good and besides, you are starting to doubt your goal was a good idea.
You weigh in the fourth week, and you actually lost 1 pound. Bummer, you missed your goal by 2 pounds. You feel like a failure.
But, guess what? You actually have started to develop some pretty exciting changes, but unless you get out of the “missed my goal” thinking, you won’t see the integral habits that will eventually add up to big success.
In the past 4 months, you have logged 12 workouts (wow!), eating 7,000 fewer calories than you did the previous month (resulting in a 2 pound weight loss), and you are feeling happier, more energized, and people are starting to notice that your clothes are loose.
Are you starting to get my drift? Instead of choosing a goal, why not choose daily actions that lead to healthy habits over time. These healthy habits will build upon one another and eventually you will find success.
Here are the 7 steps to successful goal achievement:
Set SMART goals. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time Sensitive. You and your trainer will make sure that your goals meet these qualities.
Take ACTION. The longer you fantasize about a goal the less likely it is to happen. When we allow our thoughts to be consumed by what life will be like when we achieve our goal, it can actually trick your brain into thinking that you have already accomplished it, this decreases your intrinsic motivation. Instead, decide what you want and take action immediately. If the goal is to exercise more, start that day, don’t wait. If the goal is to eat better, then start at your next meal or snack.
Focus on controllable daily habits instead of the goal itself. Daily habits will make or break your success. If you want to lose weight or body fat, then nutrition and exercise habits are essential. Developing the habits of eating in balance, hitting your calories goal, and food logging will do far more to help you lose weight than reading a motivational quote each day, right? Keeping your heart rate elevated throughout your sessions will get your stronger faster than if you stayed in your comfort zone for 60 minutes.
Don’t underestimate completion time. Sometimes we are too eager to get to the goal line, and when we don’t quite hit it, we give up. Instead, be honest with yourself about how long the goal will take, if your not sure, ask your trainer. Adjust your timeline along the way, and don’t get down.
Nothing will derail you more than negative, below the line thinking. Speaking of negativity. Your thought processes are the essential link between where you are today and where you want to be 12 weeks from now. Thinking about “not wanting to be out of shape”, wires your brain to think about “being out of shape”. Instead, spin your thoughts around and set your goal on being able to run for 30 minutes. See, that’s better, isn’t it?
Use failure to your advantage. Too many people fail at a goal and just give up and move on. Instead, use your present failure to get it right on your next try. Have you tried every diet plan out there and when it stops working you move on to the next one? Analyzing your failures and make small adjustments, this will do far more than a complete overhaul.
Celebrate every success. Often we are so focused on the finish line that we forget what’s happening in the here and now. Pay attention to the small successes and allow yourself to take pride in your progress so far. Setting smaller goals over time will help you stay motivated. Your 6 week assessment is a great time to adjust and/or celebrate your progress.
Click here to learn more on How our brains stop us from achieving our goals and how to fight back. Written by Gregory Ciotti