The following piece was shared with us by Certified Personal Trainer, Marc de Labry. Disclaimer: Marc is the husband of one of the blog authors, Emily. Follow his fitness journey on Instagram @delabryfitness
Goal setting is one of the most critical aspects to either making a change or furthering development. Without goals, it’s easy to waiver from the plan or get demoralized from slow results. However, it’s not as simple as setting a goal and thinking you’ll therefore achieve it. Goal setting needs to follow a couple guidelines to be effective.
1) Completion Date
My number one rule is that goals need to have a completion date. As with anything, having more time to do something guarantees waiting longer to start. There’s no reason to put anything off because the longer we wait, the lower the ceiling is. A true goal should take no more than six weeks to achieve. Having a vision for the future is always important and looking years down the line is critical, however, when it comes to setting goals break up that vision into bite-size pieces and start getting after it. Everyone can probably think back to a time when they had to pull an “all-nighter” to write a paper or study for an exam, where they did an insane amount of work in a very short period of time due to a tight deadline. I’m not praising this behavior because if proper goals are set, the day before a deadline is the same as the first day the goal was set, if tasks were broken up properly, but it shows most people the work ethic they are truly capable of with proper motivation.
Without specific metrics, we’re lost. Any goal can have stats that will relay our progress, it just comes down to defining the metric and keeping score. Weight lifting is an easy example of this, but we can put metrics on everything from relationship goals (how many days without an argument), to diet (how many meals a week do I buy out), and social (how many days do I go without calling a friend or having people over for dinner). Set the goal by defining the metric.
I love to dream big like the rest of them, but I also think really small. Setting a reasonable goal comes with a short completion time and a well-defined metric. The most important thing about a reasonable goal is honesty with yourself. As much as I love an exaggerated self-confidence and do believe in the “fake it till you make it” mentality, I also have come to know my limits. I believe most people, whether top CEO’s or people living on the streets, didn’t get there overnight. I think we are all being pushed forward or backward by momentum and to achieve great things we need a hard push. The trick is that there’s no single push that can get us there and that it’s much easier to keep momentum than to build it back up. Life can seem overwhelming when we take a mile high view of the mountain and witness all the peaks and valleys at a single glance. Whereas, gazing ten feet in front and focusing on each step to make sure we don’t roll an ankle, is how we actually get there. It’s the little victories that keep us going, keep our attitude positive and fuel that momentum. So when setting a goal, start small, make sure you can do it, then do it, and set another one. If it ever seems too easy, shorten the completion time. The best thing about goals is that they shouldn’t loom over us forever, they should be constantly evolving and progressing.
My last tip for proper goal setting is that once you’ve set a reasonable goal, defined the metric and set a short completion time, tell someone about it. As much as this can seem annoying or come off as over sharing your life, it will without a doubt pressure you to achieve it. The more people who know about your goal, the more people who are expecting you to finish it. Whether it’s a spouse, family member, gym partner or unfortunate cashier, just tell someone because this will help solidify the belief to yourself that you can do this. And every now and then they might shoot back with their own goal, or even some advice and encouragement to help you along. It’s like a public mantra that results in peer pressure.