How to set goals and achieve them

How to set goals and achieve them: part 1

How to set goals and achieve them: part 1

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This is part 1 of a four-part series on goal setting. Over the next four articles, we will learn how to set goals and achieve them by following a few simple steps.

We'll also answer five questions everyone needs to ask themselves when setting fitness goals:

1. Why do you want to achieve success with your fitness goal? 

2. What are the real reasons you are ready to work so hard at achieving this goal? 

3. How do you create SMART goals in a way that keeps you interested and accountable? 

4. What type of goal sets you up for long-term success? 

5. And finally, how do you create a goal you can commit to working at every day?

I have been in the health and fitness industry for a long enough time, and have helped enough of my clients achieve their goals, that I have started to notice a trend amongst those who succeed at their goals and those who fail.

What’s more, this trend holds true regardless of whether the goal is fitness related or not.

You can go out onto the street and ask just about anyone whether he or she strives for self-improvement and you will inevitably get a resounding yes.

As humans, there is a primal hard-wiring deep within us all that drives us toward, and which compels us to seek out, new opportunities for self-development.

We are forever trying to better ourselves, whether through fitness, education, relationships, employment, or otherwise. There is this idea that the better we are at being a certain version of the modern human being, the higher the quality of life we will have.

Our income will be higher, our health will be better, we will enjoy the company of our friends and family more, and we will leave lasting impressions upon those we meet.

So if everyone wants these things, why do so few achieve success, especially when it comes to fitness? In my opinion, it has everything to do with getting clear and concise in your goal setting.

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Writing goals down in a notepad can drastically improve your results. Once you have established this vision clearly in your mind’s eye, open the notepad and begin writing out an in-depth description of this version of you that you just saw. Write your account in the first person and as though you have already achieved the healthy body and vibrant lifestyle you just envisioned.

Unfortunately, how to create and achieve goals has never been properly taught in the traditional education system.

Yes, there are high school classes like career and personal planning that help kids better understand what they want in life and gives them opportunities and resources. But proper goal setting methodologies seem to always take a back seat and lessons remain ambiguous.

It's also my opinion our modern education system fails to offer kids the opportunity for understanding the importance of balancing the time and energy they spend on improving all areas of their life.

It would seem there is an overemphasis placed upon improving one's finances, social status, and aesthetic appeal with little resource left over to attend emotional, spiritual, and relationship goals.

In fact, there is ample evidence coming from peer-reviewed papers pointing to the idea that living a full, healthy, and happy life requires equal attention to areas we might otherwise believe to be unimportant for success.

While we will discuss goal setting primarily as it relates to your health and fitness, I offer you the chance, perhaps for the first time, to take stock of the areas in your life you may have been neglecting.

To simplify, we can segment the areas of our life for achieving growth into six distinct classifications; Health, business, friends, family, passions, and spiritual. Taking a look at this list, chances are a few jumped out at you as areas you may have been neglecting, with one or two having taken up most of your energy previously.

It's important for us to create worthwhile, achievable goals within all of these areas, not just one. Only then will you fully be able to enjoy life and all it has to offer.

As some homework, I have left you with a chart for you to fill out. Give each personal growth section a score out of five, with one representing little to no energy spent on growth in that area and five being maximal.

See if you can find the imbalances in your life, then work on ways of bringing balance back in.

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This article is about setting goals, no matter what those goals end up being. So, how do you set out in such a way that your chances of success go through the roof?

How do you finally see the results you have tried to achieve so many times before but with very little to show for it?

The quick answer is this: you have to get as clear as you possibly can about what it is you genuinely desire. That sounds obvious, but I mean discovering what you honestly want.

Usually, people focus on the how and not the why. People tend to concentrate on how many times a week they are prepared to go to the gym instead of on why they are willing to go three times in the first place.

Nobody wants the commitment of sweating it out three times a week in the gym. But many people want the lifestyle, health, and aesthetically pleasing body that comes with it as a result.

If you can discover the why and dive as deep as you can into your understanding of where it is coming from, making it to the gym three times a week will become much easier for you to achieve.

I know you’ve probably heard something similar before from woo-woo gurus in books and all over the internet. Regardless, this statement of finding your own unique "Why" holds true.

MILO WAS A 6 TIME OLYMPIC CHAMPION IN ANCIENT GREECE. HE IS MOST FAMOUS FOR A MYTH THAT HE WAS ABLE TO LIFT A FULL GROWN BULL OVER HIS SHOULDERS! HE ACCOMPLISHED THIS BY STARTING IN CHILDHOOD, LIFTING AND CARRYING A NEWBORN CALF AND REPEATING THE FEAT DAILY AS IT GREW TO MATURITY. THIS IS THE SAME FITNESS CONCEPT WE KNOW TODAY AS "PROGRESSIVE OVERLOAD".

Most people think they are clear about what their goals are when, in fact, the vision of the goal is simply a faint idea of the actual experiences and events they would like to achieve. And no, tone up and get abs is not a clear goal. Neither is lose some belly fat or get more fit.

When I say clear, I mean so crystal clear you can see with colourful intensity your goal already achieved in your mind when you close your eyes. You should be able to experience on an emotional level how it would feel as though it’s already happened.

You’ve heard those woo-woo guru’s say this sort of thing over and over again, but most would end at this point and leave you to figure the rest out for yourself.

Luckily for you, however, there is a step by step process you can use to fully grasp and understand your goal and develop a plan of action for achieving it.

And no, this is not hippy stuff claiming that if you can dream it, you can do it. These are actionable steps built upon peer-reviewed studies showing the efficacy of specific goal setting practices and how they exponentially increase your chances of success.

We will go over those steps in part two of this goal setting series.

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Taylor Patterson

Certified Personal Trainer
Certified Nutrition Coach
Certified Behaviour Change Specialist

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