Goal Setting: For Long-Term Consistent Success
In my own life and when working with clients, I put a big emphasis on goals. However oftentimes we make a goal or a list of goals, and then that’s where the process stops. The key to achieving goals is to be continuously setting short- and long- term goals, evaluating our progress, making adjustments as needed, and be mindful throughout the process. Finally, one of the most important components which is so so often overlooked by trainers and individuals alike, is identifying why a goal is a goal in the first place.
For really successful goal setting, follow-through, and success, I have outlined the 6 most important factors. Use these factors as a guide, and you will succeed in any goal you set – whether it be health, fitness, work, school, performance – anything!
1) Identify your Why:
99% of Americans probably have a goal that includes some form of weight loss or change in body composition. And many of those individuals often never achieve that goal, or spend years and years yo-yo dieting and trying workout plan after workout plan, with no success. The problem we can see here, is that merely having a goal isn’t enough. We need to be able to identify the why that really drives the goal. Once that can be identified, you will find that motivation, focus, follow-through, and passion sky-rockets.
Merely having a goal; wanting to lose weight, eat healthier, make more money – is not enough. We need to really be able to understand what drives that desire and that goal. Individually, it can be helpful to do a simple brainstorm or bulleted list. If you’re a trainer working with a client, working on identifying that why early-on will be extremely beneficial for both your client’s success and your client-trainer relationship.
Oftentimes that driving why factor won’t be too hard to uncover: “I want to lose 10 pounds so that I have more confidence and feel better about myself every single day.” “I want to improve my cardiovascular fitness so that I can keep up with my kids and set a good example.” “I want to make more money so that I can provide for my family and reduce stress so I can better enjoy my life.”
However sometimes that driving why isn’t so obvious, and more digging may be required. Don’t get frustrated or give up if this is the case – be gentle with yourself and keep brainstorming. Simply notice your habits, thoughts, and feelings throughout each day. Can you notice any patterns or make any connections? Eventually it will come. The most important step is seeking that why in the first place. It will come – be patient!
2) Long-term goals:
Long-term goals are broad sub-sets of your main goal. Once you’ve identified your goal and have your driving why factor, setting long-term goals help us to stay the track towards success. I like to think of long-term goals as the main bullet points of an outline.
In setting long-term goals, look at the big picture. In the road towards achieving your goal, what are some major milestones that need to be achieved in the process? There could be one, or there could be multiple.
3) Short-term goals:
Short-term goals expand directly from long-term goals: they are what we work with on more of a daily and weekly basis. These are the smaller bullet points that fill out the “outline”, and help us to achieve those long-term goals, which then help us to achieve the overall goal.
I like to set weekly and daily goals to really keep myself on track and maintain positive momentum. This may not work for everyone – find what works for you. If setting both daily and weekly goals is too much, try just a weekly goal, or maybe two weekly goals that complement each other. The possibilities regarding the set-up are endless: this is really about what works for you and what is going to help you experience success.
4) Progress evaluation:
Throughout the whole process of setting goals and working to achieve them, it is important to be constantly evaluating progress, or lack-there-of. While we want to maintain positive momentum, we don’t want to be blindly pushing forward with actions and habits that are not actually helping us achieve our goals. It’s important to periodically slow down, and (honestly) assess our actions and habits, and determine if they are A) successful and B) actually contributing towards success.
This can be difficult to do, because we oftentimes have a a hard time being impartially honest with ourselves. This is where having a trainer, friend, spouse, or support system of some kind can be really helpful.
5) Making adjustments:
Once progress has been evaluated, you can make the decision to keep moving forward with your plan, or make adjustments.
Adjustments most-often will be made in regards to short-term goals- such as daily habits, workout periodization, macros, budgeting, time allocation, etc., however long-term goals can also be adjusted.
You may find that one long-term goal that you thought was crucial in achieving your overall goal, may not actually be so crucial, or needs some a little tweaking to stay on track. Changing long-term goals can be scary or feel like slacking or tapping-out, but I promise it’s OK! Plans change, life changes, what we may have thought at one point may end up being different later…long-term goals (and any goal for that matter) can be flexible.
I think in any health & wellness post I write I always mention wellness, but that’s just because it’s so important for success and sustainability. If we just plow blindly forward through life, goals in hand, when do we realize if we are happy? When do we notice if we are actually experiencing success? When do we size-up the quality of our lives? When do we stop bad habits and replace them with better ones?
In your goal-achieving journey, remain mindful always. Don’t neglect your health or ignore what your body may be telling you, don’t neglect your personal life or love life, don’t stay razor focused on a short-term goal that may not be all that important in the end.
Remaining mindful helps us to actually live our lives while pushing to achieve goals, and actually become more successful. For example, people who are more mindful are often more in-tune with their bodies, and can tell earlier on how they may be reacting to a certain eating pattern change or workout program.
Mindfulness also helps to protect mental health. Oftentimes we push forward and forward, and in the process fail to notice emotions and state-of-mind. For some this is a coping mechanism, but the further those feelings and emotions are pushed away, the larger the “blow-up” will be. Just the same as nurturing your body, nurture your mind.
It is totally ok to be super motivated and focused on our goals, and use that momentum to propel ourselves forward towards success. Along the way, don’t forget to slow down, live each day, and be mindful to protect the body, mind, and the momentum you have worked so hard to build. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the process; I am guilty of this! But I have learned that making time and room for mindfulness throughout the journey 100% pays off in the end. Successes are sweeter, sustainable, and don’t come with a sacrifice.