Updated: Jul 30
A lot is talked about goal setting and how important it is but do you really know how to do it successfully?
Setting goals gives you a purpose and a plan which can develop motivation, drive and determination. There are 6 important steps you should follow to give you more of a chance of successfully achieving them:
1. Choose Wisely
It is crucial that you choose a goal that not only motivates you, but is also achievable within a certain timeframe. Start out with a short to medium timeframe (ie within 1-2 months) and become good at it before you build to a bigger goal that may take 3-6 months or more.
Note: it’s ok to have a dream ie ‘I want to go to the Olympics’ as this can give you the ultimate drive and motivation that will help you achieve all the little goals along the way!
To help you decide your goal, start by answering questions such as:
- “If I knew I could never fail what would I want to achieve?”
- “How would I feel if I achieved it?”
- “Why is it so important for me to achieve that?”
- “What do I need to do to achieve it and who can help me?” (this will also help create the steps to reach the final goal).
Either come up with the goal yourself or if you do come up with it with someone else you MUST think that it’s a good idea and WHOLLY OWN it to be successful.
2. Keep It Simple
You don’t want to be overwhelmed, make sure you keep your goals simple that can be achieved with just a few steps. You can add more goals later but start like this to get going. Work on only one to two goals at a time to prevent being overwhelmed.
With sport, begin with a goal that improves a certain technique that you are weakest on, i.e in swimming the goal may be ‘to improve my streamline off the wall’ or 'to improve my core strength on land that will help my performance in the pool’
With general health and fitness you may set a goal to achieve '10,000 steps each day for a month'.
With weight loss you may set a goal to ‘lose 4-8lbs in 4 weeks’.
Whatever your desire, sit down with a pen and paper, write down what you want to achieve in say a month and then consider the steps you need to commit to in order to achieve it.
3. Break Down Your Goal Into Smaller Steps
This is really important as it gives you a more realistic chance of achieving the goal. Have only 3 to 4 steps to reach the goal; if this can’t be done then the goal is not specific enough or too big, so start again.
For example, with the swimming goal above, to break down the streamline goal your steps may be as follows:
A. Commit to attending [x] amount of training sessions each week.
B. Ask my coach what I specifically need to do to improve my streamline technique.
C. Focus on these aspects of my streamline push off during each and every single warm up. Write in my Journal daily as to how I am progressing.
D. Work on this skill at the end of hard sets when I'm tired and commit to practicing, practicing and practicing over and over again.
For example, with the weight loss goal above, your steps may be as follows (we have an App that can help you):
A. Using the App, design my personalised nutrition plan.
B. To lose 1-2 lbs per week my daily calorie deficit must average 500 cals per day (3500 cals per week reduction = 1-2 lbs weight loss).
C. Track all my food and drink including those snacks that can easily be forgotten! Cut down on processed foods and refined sugars.
D. Do not solely focus on the scales - body measurements are just as important plus fat/muscle % breakdown as this can affect those scale results.
E. Move each day, get out for at least 30 mins exercise each day.
4. Measure & Review Progress
Without measuring your progress how are you going to know if you are close to achieving your goal? Regularly measure how far you have come, review what progress you have made and any changes that are needed and write it down - this will keep you on track and motivated.
Feedback from others is also very important; the added advantage of having others involved in your goal is they can see if improvements are being made and offer advice where needed.
It’s important to have a deadline to a goal to give accountability and prevent boredom so don't push back that end date to your goal unless you have a very good reason!
5. Reward Achievement
Don’t forget to celebrate the achievement. Of course the greatest reward is achieving the goal but you may have your sights set on new clothing or a body massage or something else to spur you on for your next goal.
6. What if you start to lack motivation and want to give up?
Here are the questions you can ask yourself to help:
- “Can I honestly say that I have put as much effort in as possible?” This may be hard for you to admit but it’s a good one to address to really see if you were committed to the goal in the first place.
- “Was the goal too big in the first place?” Perhaps it’s time to be more realistic and set a slightly easier goal? However, remain confident that the bigger goal will be more of a medium to longer term goal that you can still achieve if you work hard.
- “What were the reasons I wanted to achieve the goal in the first place and how will it make me feel if I achieve it?” By asking yourself this again may re-build the emotions within to give you fire and determination that may have dwindled.
Important - Perhaps it is more of a case that you haven’t achieved it ‘yet’ but you have still made progress. Celebrate this progress and do your best to build your own self-esteem to continue.
If after all this you still lack motivation and want to give up, it’s ok! You have tried your best and when you're ready find a new goal to focus on. Decide on something that you can more realistically achieve (remember step 2 above, keep it simple!). Asking for help is not a sign of weakness so do ask your trainer, partner, friend, work colleague or anyone else for help as this could be the nudge you need to get going again.
Good luck in all you want to achieve - you've got this so go out there and get it!