Set and achieve your goals!
Most people have a vague goal of what they want: “I want to get fitter”, “I want to lose weight”, “I want to get stronger”, etc. But it’s not really clear what they want exactly, or how long it will take and what they have to do to get there. In this case, there’s a good chance you won’t get there. In step 1 we will clarify your goal so that you know what it is that you want. We’ll also give you a tip on how to get there. The rest of the step-by-step plan is about how to plan, continue, and all the things you need to arrange or think about in order to reach your goal.
The problem with general goals is that they are often vague. We’ll describe why you should and how you can improve them
#1 : Outcome Goals
What are outcome goals?
They are your end goals such as:
I want to lose 20 pounds.
I want to be able to run 5 miles in a row.
I want to grow old fit.
Outcome goals are important because they inspire. These are the things you really want to achieve and are personally significant. You get motivation from it and want to keep going even when your motivation decreases. The dangers of focusing solely on your outcome goals are:
- It takes a long time to get them.
- They can be intimidating.
- They don’t tell you what to do to reach them.
You sometimes forget to think about all the (smaller) interim successes you achieve along the way. These are at least as important, because this will help you reach your outcome goal.
We want to clarify which actions are linked to a goal so that we can learn new healthy habits that will help us achieve this goal.
#2: Habit goals
Essential to building a healthy lifestyle and achieving your goals is building the right habits that support it. So we want to set custom goals in addition to outcome goals. Habit goals are action-oriented. You can do them right away and they are measurable. These are the steps you will take to reach your outcome goals.
“I’m going to do a Fit at Home workout every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 19:00”.
“I’m going to eat a portion of vegetables of about 3.5 oz three times a day”.
“Every Saturday I’ll go for a run in the morning”.
Much of your behaviour is automatic. When you wake up, you walk to the toilet without thinking about it. You don’t have to think about what your route will be. You get up and stumble, slightly sleepy and with one eye half open, in the right direction. In the bathroom you automatically grab your toothbrush and you don’t have to think about how to put the toothpaste on it. You have already done it thousands of times. That’s what we ultimately want to create with habitual goals. Healthy habits that you hardly have to think about. Which you can do on autopilot and therefore cost you little energy. If you build enough healthy habits that support your goals, you will get closer to it step by step and it will also be easy to stay there.
This is the big difference with (crash) diets. You follow strict rules that you actually don’t like at all and therefore you don’t really make it your own. You can of course do that for a short period of time. Four, six, eight, twelve weeks you’re fine, but at a certain point you get tired of it and you stop. The problem is that you have nothing to fall back on. You haven’t learned healthy habits that will help you maintain your new weight. So you’re back to your pre-diet weight. And, often a little bit more because your body wants to protect you against the next period of scarcity.
It might be nice to lose a few pounds quickly, but if it comes back the next month, it won’t help you much. Building healthy habits takes time. It’s not necessarily easy or fast either. But that doesn’t matter, it’s not about speed, it’s about durability.
#3: Be SMART
Finally, we want to make your goals SMART. As a result, we know in detail what we are reaching for, how long it will take and whether it is realistic to chase. For example, losing ten pounds in three weeks is not realistic unless you cut off an arm or leg. But ten pounds in six months, depending on many variables, is quite achievable if you plan it well and put a lot of time and energy into it. Next, you can read how you can apply the SMART principles to your goals.
Specific: What is your situation at the start and where do you want to go? Describe in detail exactly what you want to achieve. So not: “I want to lose weight”, but “I want to lose 10 kilos”. So not: “I want to get in shape”, but “I want to be able to exercise for 25 minutes in a row”.
Measurable: To measure is to know! Different goals have different metrics. If you want to lose weight, it is a good idea to keep track of your weight. If you want to run the 6 miles faster, you have to keep track of your time. If you want to get fitter it is smart to keep track of how long you can exercise without getting out of breath and to see what your heart rate is doing.
You do a baseline measurement, in other words how is it going the very first time. And you keep track of your progress. You can keep track of these results in a special training overview.
Acceptable: Is the goal you have chosen really something you want to achieve? Are you doing it for yourself and are you completely convinced that you want this? If the answer is YES then you are on the right path. Furthermore, it is of course nice if you can get several people in your area to support you. A strong social and health network will help you achieve your goals.
Realistic: A SMART goal is realistic. We all have our own specific body type and lifestyle. Do not compare yourself with others, but compare yourself with yourself from 1, 2, 3, etc months ago. Are you progressing? Have you built new healthy habits? Awesome! Be proud of your victories. Stay true to yourself, ambitious goals are great, but making them too ambitious will only lead to disappointment.
Time-bound: A goal is a dream with a deadline! If you have an ambitious goal that will last a long time, it is smart to divide it into a number of short-term goals. So not only: “I want to lose 20 kilos in a year”, but also “I want to lose 5 kilos in 3 months”. With every short-term goal you have achieved, it is good to pause and celebrate your success.