Setting goals is a powerful tool that can be used in almost every aspect of our lives — self-improvement, career advancement, educational development, athletic achievement, relationship communication, and financial control. Those who have never used goals for guidance or motivation tend to write them off as self-help nonsense. Those who have experienced their power set and monitor goals on a regular basis.
All achievement starts with goals. You have to know where you want to go first before you have a chance of reaching that final destination. Setting goals helps us block out life’s distractions and narrow our focus to a specific task at hand. It helps us set priorities in our lives. It gives us the power to tap into our energies and abilities and use them to maximum effect.
Goals provide us with specific reasons for performing our daily actions. Without goals we often wander from moment to moment, task to task without a purpose. We end up spinning our wheels, stuck in the same spot as years past, with no real accomplishments to show for it.
Athletes and coaches understand the power of goal setting. In the off-season or at the start of the season, players and teams set specific goals for the upcoming year. They then set a specific plan of action to achieve those goals. It could be to win a championship or to break personal records. Ambitious goals motivate them to work hard and push through the rigors of the competitive season. It gives them a reason to make the sacrifices necessary to be an elite athlete.
GOALS IN THE FITNESS GAME
Most people just have vague ideas about their health and fitness goals. “I want to lose some weight.” “I want to get rid of my belly fat.” “I want to lower my cholesterol.” I bet you can think of a thousand other examples. Here are the two best that I’ve ever heard in all my years in the fitness industry. (1) “I want my neck to stop jiggling around like a turkey’s.” (2) “I want to look less pregnant than my pregnant wife.”
The problem with vague goals such as these is there is no accountability. There is nothing specific to work towards and no time frame in which you should complete your task. You can justify skipping workouts or cheating on your diet because, “I’ll just get it out of my system and start all over again tomorrow.” I know I’ve done that more times than I’d like to admit, and I’m a professional. When a warm-chocolate chip cookie is staring you in the face, a little extra jiggle with your wiggle doesn’t seem so bad.
That’s where short-term goals come in. With a short-term goal, there is no starting over again because the time frame is finite. If you have a doctor’s appointment in 2 months and this is the last chance to lower your cholesterol by 100 points so you don’t have to go on medication, you have a reason not to eat that cookie. If you have a goal of losing 20 pounds and looking sexy at the beach, or in a wedding dress in 3 months, you have a very strong reason not to eat that cookie. Goals give us a powerful polarizing factor in our decision-making process, and they lead us in a better direction than just doing whatever we feel like.
The fittest people I know continually set specific goals for their health, body composition, and appearance. They know this is the best way to keep them on track in a world full of temptations. It’s hard to get into and stay in shape in America 2K. We’re overworked, overstressed, and constantly exposed to food refining and supersizing. Goals give us a reason to work hard, sacrifice, and do what is necessary to achieve what we desire.
CRY OUT TO THE WORLD
“You gotta cry out, cry out to the world, to make your dreams happen.” That’s a line from the rock song Cry Tough by Poison. Yeah, I know it’s a cheesy reference. But hey, I grew up an 80’s rocker kid with five older brothers sporting the Bon Jovi hair-sprayed and feathered hair. Feel free to substitute your own quote to motivate you, but the moral of the message remains the same.
I’ve always told people that if you have a goal, you need to tell people about it. The more people you tell the better, but you need to share your goal with at least one other person. Why? Well, because this holds you accountable to pursuing and achieving that goal. If you keep your goals a secret, you have no one to call you out when you are slacking off or falling off track. It’s too easy to just forget about your goal when the going gets tough.
By not telling anyone about your goal, you automatically give yourself a way out. If you quit and give up, no one knows that you were even chasing after something. And more importantly, no one knows that you failed. You can just start over again with no real consequences. At least if you tell someone and you bail out, you’ll have to deal with the questions of what happened.
I’m not a lot of things in this life. I have many faults and shortcomings. But one thing I know that I am is a man of my word. If I tell someone about my goal, than I’d be breaking my word if I didn’t chase after it. That’s not going to happen. This motivates me to follow through 100% with the goals I’ve set. I may still fail, but once I tell someone I’m going after something, I will never fail because I didn’t give it my best shot.
I want you to think about a goal you might have for yourself over the next couple of months. I know we’re talking health and fitness, so preferably stick to that, but your goal could be anything. How do you want to improve your life over the next couple of months? Do you want to lose some weight, improve your health and well being, look fit and hot for the summer, save some money, make some money, improve your career, be a better family member or friend, be a better person in general, etc.?
Once you figure out your goal, you have to tell someone else to make the pursuit of that goal a reality. You need to put yourself on the line. You need to put some pressure on yourself by making sure you have to answer to someone if you weasel out. If you’re not comfortable sharing that goal with someone in your circle, than you can email it to me through this site. Trust me, I’ll hold you accountable.