Most fitness journeys begin with setting fitness goals when you realise there is a problem with your health or the way you look and feel. And then you realise the solution – setting fitness goals and making lifestyle changes.
It could be that your doctor told you that you have high blood pressure. Similarly that you worked up a sweat and puff walking to the letterbox to collect mail. Perhaps you no longer like the way you look and feel – you didn’t like what you saw in the mirror or that number on the scales?!
If it’s like every other year, it’s possible that you made another New Year’s resolution. After eating and drinking too much during the festive season. Setting fitness goals, you told yourself “it’s time to get in shape, 2018 is the year!”.
Maybe you are already in shape, but in need of some conditioning, toning or definition. Training for an upcoming competition or an event.
In any situation, setting fitness goals and making lifestyle changes are a benefit to you. Fitness is an integral component of a healthy lifestyle. It promotes physical, mental and social well-being.
Therefore, your health and fitness goals should always be for you. A healthier and fitter you not only means being fit, lean and strong. It brings a lot of energy and confidence, making you feel comfortable and happy with yourself.
Setting fitness goals is ideal for chasing success. But to keep yourself from failing to reach them, make your fitness goals SMART. You’ll be very surprised at how easy it becomes to achieve what you set out to do.
By setting fitness goals you can chase success and reach new personal highs.
Getting SMART with setting fitness goals
You may not realise it, but you create goals for yourself quite often, if not daily. Hoping that you’ll achieve something beneficial. Nobody does something for the sake of it, there’s always a motive. Setting fitness goals is no different.
It could be as simple as going to the shops for groceries to replenish your fridge and cupboard. Or putting some money away for an upcoming holiday.
Everything you do is usually a result of wanting to reach a particular desired outcome. In fact, when you reach this desired outcome, you’re actually setting and achieving a goal.
Those things you intend to do, finish or achieve is a goal – your desires to improve how you look, feel and live are goals too.
The key to achieving them, is setting fitness goals in the first place and planning them the right way!
This blog will teach you the most effective goal setting techniques and strategies. You’ll learn how to set SMART fitness goals and how to track your progress.
Follow these guidelines to make your objectives far more reasonable, smart and doable.
Listing your goals
The very first thing you should do, is to list everything you want to achieve. It doesn’t matter whether it’s general “to lose excessive weight” or more specific. Prepare your physical list of goals.
Writing down your goals and objectives helps you systemise and verify them. It’s a good way to look at everything you plan to achieve. Moreover, by writing, you get a physical reminder, a long term to-do list.
Your first list doesn’t have to be perfect. Simply record all your objectives and specify how you plan to complete them. Write your thoughts, your ideas and fears. Consider what may stop you from achieving your goals.
This very starting list is only the beginning. Later on, you will use it to develop, verify and correct your objectives. It’s like a shapeless mass that you are yet to sculpt. You know your goals, but only as you work towards them will you see how your actions and expectations shape out.
Setting fitness goals the SMART way
SMART goals work as good in business as they do in your personal life. As a result, this strategy will help you set realistic and attainable goals. Which are simple to check and track.
They define objectives that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound. Take the goal list you have already prepared, scan it and see whether all your goals are SMART
Here’s what it means to you.
Be clear, precise and define the goal as much as possible. Give detailed information about what, why and how you want to achieve your goal.
When you say “I want to lose weight”, it’s not specific. But when you state “I want to decrease my BMI to the normal range, from 27 to 22, that’s exactly the specific goal you need.
Allows you to track progress and measure the outcome. With measurable data, you can calculate something related to your objectives.
You can’t check your progress if you don’t have numbers that speak for it. Don’t go for vague objectives that are hard to track.
Instead, aim at targets that you can measure with numbers and facts. For example, if one of your goals is to consume 6500kJ/day, then you are tracking measurable data.
Make sure your goal is reasonable enough and achievable. It should not be out of reach or below standard performance.
Know your limits and go for things you can achieve. Contrary to popular belief, aiming too high won’t motivate you to work harder. Instead, it will overwhelm you and you will end up disappointed with yourself.
Let’s face it, setting a goal to lose 10kg in 7 days is quite unrealistic. Yet, losing 1kg a week for 4 weeks is very achievable. Don’t set yourself up for failure by setting unrealistic goals.
Is the goal worthwhile and will it meet your needs or solve your problems? Everybody wants to achieve perfection, but some goals aren’t as important than others.
Ensure your goals are consistent and meet your immediate and long-term plans. Pick what’s important to you and discard the rest.
Include a time limit with your goals. It will establish a sense of urgency and prompt you to have better time management. Tasks which have no due date, usually delay forever.
Also, choose a date on which you will revise your results. This way you will feel motivated to complete your objectives before the goal end date.
An example of someone who wants to get back into shape with a flatter stomach would make the following goal:
‘I want to decrease my weight by losing 3kg in 12 weeks, by working out 4 times a week for 20 minutes. Starting on 1st December 2019 until 23rd February 2020, measuring and tracking my progress weekly’.
You could even set a subgoal to assist in achieving your master goal:
‘I want to increase my core strength by performing a plank on my Phatmat and improving the time by 10 seconds every week’
Keeping your goals SMART ensures you are on the right path to succeeding. Even more, this strategy has worked for thousands of people all over the world. It should work for you, too!
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Short-term and long-term goals (and those in the middle)
Divide your list of SMART goals into long-term objectives and short-term tasks. Doing this will help you understand that you can’t approach them the same way.
Long- and short- term goals ask of you to look at them from a different perspective. They will also need different actions to make them happen.
Short-term fitness goals
Usually, it takes several days or weeks to complete short-term goals. They often result from one single action.
A short-term goal is, for example, ridding your house of unhealthy food or buying a bike. These objectives are often easy to complete, but they are not game changers.
Long-term fitness goals
Long-term goals are the exact opposite, and can take years to achieve. An example of such a goal could be to lose weight or change your diet. These are processes that last several months and need a lot of work. That’s why you plan and execute them differently to short-term goals.
When you plan something that is long-term, you should think backwards. It’s a great way to visualize every checkpoint you need to pass before you reach the finish line.
If you want to change your diet, ask yourself what leads to it. You need to enhance your knowledge about dieting. To do so, you research and consult with dietitians. To consult a dietitian, you schedule an appointment, and so on. This is the pattern you should follow if you want to complete your long-term objectives the right way.
Medium-term fitness goals
Don’t forget that medium-term goals exist too. These are a smart hybrid between short- and long-term. Keep them in mind as you plan your objectives and consider whatever checkpoints lie ahead of you.
Tracking your fitness progress
It doesn’t matter how you track your progress, as long as you do it. Without the detailed knowledge on how you’re proceeding, you can’t maximise your results.
All your “goal data” stored somewhere is a valuable source of knowledge. It allows you to track everything you do. This way, you can correct your mistakes and spot your weak points. Then adjust to get back on track for an effective solution.
If you lack ideas about how to track your progress, consider one of the following:
Classic diet diary: to watch your diet and write down everything you eat. It may sound tedious, but in the long run, it’s a perfect way check whether you stick with your promises.
Classic exercise diary: for every work out. Record the number of sets and repetitions you managed to do.
Picture diary: every month, take several pictures of your body. Describe them and store them together for later analysis.
Tables: prepare columns and cells in which you put your valuable data. For example, you can use it to track whether you exercise as planned.
Sometimes people who fight for their healthier selves, neglect this process – don’t repeat their mistakes. For that reason, only by archiving your efforts can you tell how well you’re doing.
Developing the right habits
Living a healthy life and staying fit isn’t about big deeds. Rather, it’s a result of several micro-actions that together change your life and body. These micro-actions are the right habits you need to make.
It all depends on what you struggle with, and how you correct yourself. It could be drinking more water. Getting more physical activity. Sleeping better. Or eating more vegetables and fruits and so on.
A lot of people fail to make new, better habits. But, you should succeed if you follow these three simple rules.
3 simple habits
Commit to one habit for 28 days. Don’t try to kill two birds with one stone. When it comes to habits, it doesn’t work like this. Focus on one only and commit to it for one full month.
Start simple and small. It’s easier to repeat what demands no effort from you. If you start with big, difficult changes, you’ll end up tired and discouraged. Improve a percent at a time, day by day.
In case you skip, get back on track fast. Imagine you decided to exercise every day for twenty minutes. It’s alright if you skip a day. But don’t let the break last forever! As soon as you can, get back to building your habit to prevent further gaps in the process.
Building right habits isn’t easy, you may get tired on the way there. In moments of doubt, remember why you started working on that particular habit in first place. Thinking about it will help you overcome the fatigue and start fresh with new energy!
No sweat setting fitness goals?
By now, you know the importance of setting fitness goals, particularly SMART goals.
You have learned that SMART goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound.
You have divided your objectives into long- and short-term. And learned the importance of progress tracking. Now you know how to do it with diaries and journals.You have also read about developing successful habits.Use this information to pick the right goals and track them. Develop the right habits that will help you achieve your new, reasonable and doable goals.
Good planning and steady habit making change everything. Even without seeing immediate changes, they’re worth the wait. Plan SMART, track with detail and alter your daily habits to ensure your future success.
How to set fitness goals?
- Make a list
List what you would like to achieve from a health and fitness perspective.
- Make your fitness goals SMART
SMART goals define objectives that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound.
- Determine short-term and long-term goals
- Track your fitness progress
Use diaries or apps to track your fitness progress. Logs and templates are useful.
- Develop the right habits
Determination and discipline are required to remain focused and on track to reach your fitness goals.