Setting achievable Goals – 5 ways not to fail.

Mountain GoalsWe all have dreams and aspirations of some sort. Every one of us at some stage has lain in bed at night and thought “if only” or “i wish i could…”. So why do some people seem to be able to achieve those aims and make them reality, and others just don’t.

Setting goals is a bit of a cliché. We have all worked at companies or in jobs where tired bosses sit us all in a room and we “brainstorm” a set of goals that we’d like to achieve. However the trick is to get away from that negative mindset around goals and bring them back into a sense of reality. What is a “goal”? Very simply it’s just something you’d like to do or an aim you’d like to achieve. So how can you turn that goal or dream into reality. Use the 5 tips below and by implementing these simple techniques you WILL achieve your health and fitness goals.

  1. Be Realistic: This is THE most critical point of all. We may all have dreams but look at yourself in the mirror and genuinely ask yourself “is this possible?”. I’m all for setting high standards and reaching the top of the mountain, but we do also have to look at our limitations and be real. If you currently get out of breath running 50 yards for the bus then setting yourself a goal of running the Marathon in under 3 hours is too big a leap. You have to make a realistic assessment of where you are now and set a challenging but achievable target of where you would like to get to. So if you are struggling to run to the bus stop, set a target of running 3 miles without stopping. If you are 6 stone overweight, don’t commit to losing all 6 stone immediately, set a target of losing half of that weight in a set period. That brings me onto the next point….
  2. Change and reset your goals regularly. People seem to think that if they set a goal it is cast in stone. Life isn’t like that. Life throws you curve balls all the time. Your circumstances change, your health, job, family situation may all change for the better or worse and you have to be flexible enough to accommodate those changes and the effect they may have on your goals. Similarly as you work towards the goal you may surprise yourself and need to reset the goal. If your aim is to run 3 miles and you suddenly find you have an aptitude for running then push it out to 5 miles or 10 miles. If the weight falls off of you very easily change the time period you are looking at. I’d also suggest that the best way to set goals is to take it in small chunks. If you do want to run a marathon you don’t go out and hit 26 miles on day one. You aim for 5 miles, then 10, then 15 and work your way towards the end goal. That should be the same in all areas of your health and fitness regime. Constantly appraise yourself, where are you at, what can you change and are you making progress towards the ultimate target?
  3. Make sure your goal is measurable in some way or that you can keep track of it. If it’s just about appearance then take a selfie in front of the mirror once a week. You will be amazed at how motivating it is to see and be able to detail those small incremental changes. Keeping a record of the improvements you are making whether that is more weight you are lifting, kilo’s you are losing, dress sizes you are dropping or just how much more toned you look in photo’s will inspire you to keep up the good work. Sometimes progress is slow or moves forward in almost unseen steps. if you can document it, however small, it will keep you on track and moving forward.
  4. However the flip side of point 3 is this. Don’t panic if you have a setback or it isn’t working. At some point in whatever it is that you are trying to achieve you will hit a plateau, a point where you get stuck and don’t seem able to make any more progress. You may stop losing weight, just can’t improve your running times or can’t get your bench press above 100kg no matter how hard you try. It’s really important at those points not to be become negative or demotivated. Cut yourself some slack, step back and take a look at a)how far you have come already and b) what you might be able to change to continue moving forward again. In many cases just taking a week off, recharging your batteries and giving your body and mind some time off is all you need. Start again after the week off and see what happens. If that doesn’t work you may just need to change your routine a bit. Your body is very clever and if you do the same thing all the time it adjusts and stops making progress. That’s why changing your approach and making small changes to your goals on a regular basis is so important.
  5. Make your goals public and put a time frame on them. That doesn’t mean you need to put an advert in the local newspaper, but DO tell a few of your loved ones and close friends what your aims are. “Why would i want to do that?” you ask, “that’s embarrassing!” Well for two reasons really. Firstly if you tell other people your aims then almost everyone i know will feel the same way. They feel that by publicly committing to something you are letting not only yourself down but other people as well if you stray away from your target, and that can be a very powerful motivator. Secondly however, those people can and will help you. If you have a bit of a blip, fall off the wagon or just start to struggle then those close to you can give you the support and help you need to pick yourself back up and keep going. They can push you towards your targets and give you the impetus to keep going even when it becomes tough.

So to summarise what i have said very briefly. Set realistic targets that are achievable based on where you are now. Set a time frame and a way of measuring your progress. Appraise and if need be change those goals on a regular basis and finally tell some of your closest friends and relatives so that they can help you out (and give you some friendly stick if you start to wilt).

Don’t hesitate, start now. Get a piece of paper, write down 5 things you’d like to achieve and then pick one that you want get started on. Set a date, figure out how you are going to go about it and get cracking. Climbing the biggest mountain starts with the very first small step, so do that RIGHT NOW!!

Take Care,

John

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