How To Set a Goal

“I’ll start on Monday.”

“I’m going to get toned”

“I’m going to lose weight”

“I’m going to eat healthy”

Do any of those statements sound familiar to you? If they do, chances are you’ve said these to yourself, maybe even on more than one occasion. Can you remember achieving any of these goals? Chances are, you can’t. Why? Because they were never reached.

Now, don’t take this the wrong way. I’m not telling you that you can’t achieve your goals or that you can’t lose the weight. I’m telling you that it’s not you that is the problem. It’s your goals. 

You see, there is a lot more to a goal than a statement, whether it’s said aloud or internally. Even if it’s also written down. A goal needs to have certain characteristics. Think of a goal as a car. If you have the outer shell of the car and nothing else, it won’t go any where. You need tires, an engine, gas, that thing that connects your phone to the display so you know where to go (just kidding).

Today, I’m going to show you how to create a goal and achieve it.

Step One: What do you want?

Choose one thing that you want to work towards. Don’t choose to lose fat, tone up, eat perfectly, and get 8 hours of sleep all at once. Lifestyle changes happen slowly and with repeated processes. So, choose one thing. Let’s use my goal at the moment: I want to lose fat.

Step Two: Is it reasonable?

If your goal is to run a marathon 6 weeks from now after never having ran in your entire life, chances are, it is not very achievable. This is probably the hardest step, because it involves evaluating yourself objectively. Try this: imagine your best friend coming up to you and telling you he or she wants to reach your goal. For example: I imagined my best friend Hannah (aka superwoman, who is also a fellow blogger) coming up to me and saying “Emily, I want to lose fat.” If you con’t see yourself being on board with your friend achieving this goal, don’t expect it of yourself.

Step Three: Quantify it.

“I want to lose fat” is a pretty vague statement. How much? 1 pound, or 10? For me, this involved some math. Let’s say I want to lose 15 pounds and get to a body fat percentage of 15%. I calculated my body fat percentage and then multiplied that as percentage by my weight in pounds: 0.24×140 = 33.6lbs. Then, I multiplied my goal body fat by my goal weight: 0.15×125=18.75. 33.6-18.75 = about 15 pounds of fat. (Fat loss goals and fat loss calculations may not add up, if that’s the case it’s because you have to lose fat and gain muscle –  I’m going to be talking about this in my next post if you’re confused)

Other goals could be: I want to run 10k, or I want to run 5k in under 30 minutes, or I want to be able to squat 100 pounds.

Step 4: Give your goal a timeline.

Now I know that I want to lose fat, I know that it is reasonable, and I know how much I want to lose. So, how long should it take me? The timeline, much like the goal itself, needs to be reasonable as well – do the friend experiment again. For some things, like fat loss, it’s simple: the fastest you want to see the scale go down every week is by about 2 pounds. So, I divide 15/2, which gives me a timeline. It would take me about 7 and a half weeks to lose 15 pounds if I’m losing 2 pounds per week.

For other things, like running, there is science as well: you never want to increase your mileage by more than 10% each week. So, if you’re running 5k, 2 times per week, and want to run a marathon, you’ll have to calculate your weekly mileage increases: 10k x 1.10 = 11k in week 2, 11k x 1.1 = 12k in week 3, etc. It may seem slow, but it works.

If it is a strength goal, or another endurance/cardiovascular goal, use your common sense, and check out the internet: look for articles backed up with references.

Step 5: Track it.

Put the end date of your goal in your calendar, and set an alarm to remind you every day of your goal. Track your workouts, runs, pounds lost, or strength gained, in a journal (I use my FitBook to keep track of my progress and reminded of my goals) that you can take with you and look at frequently. Seeing progress on paper is often motivation enough to keep going when the going get’s tough.

So there you have it, 5 steps to turn your aspirations into achievable goals. If you have more than one goal, just work on one at a time. Follow each step with each goal. It may seem like a long process, but it’s worth it. After prolonged repetitions, habits become a lifestyle, and that is the end goal: lifelong health!

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