What comes to mind when you think of “fitness goals”?
While some people may look forward to conquering fitness goals and have a plan to achieve them, others cringe at the thought.
Everyone wants to be fitter, stronger and leaner. Most (if not all) of us consider fitness goals to be important enough to feature high in our list of new year resolutions.
Yet it is no secret and studies repeatedly show that less than 50% of us stick to our resolutions beyond 6 months. In fact, it is estimated that less than 10% of us actually ever achieve our goals.
Are Fitness Goals Really Important?
Believe it or not, I meet people all the time who don’t have one. Yes, they would like to lose the weight and get fitter but they don’t bother with goal setting and the plan to achieve them. There are many reasons for this:
- They have a rough idea about what they want and don’t see the point going further in the process.“I would love to go on a diet and lose 2 dress sizes”, “I want to start running and would be happy if I lost 10 kg”.
- They don’t believe in the power of goals. “oh, I have been there, done that. Goals have never worked for me”.
- They assume that it is going to cost them too much money and time. “I cant afford the gym fees its so expensive and more over I am on a very busy project and don’t have time to spare”.
If these excuses sound familiar to you, achieving your fitness goals will be a challenge.
There is no denying that setting fitness goals, planning to achieve them and taking action is going to take some effort.
Even so, that doesn’t mean the process has to be tedious, drawn out and expensive.
In this post, I hope to show just how simple it can be to conquer fitness goals.
More specifically, I’m going to discuss 4 powerful techniques that will give you the laser focus you need to reach your fitness goals.
Let’s get started!
1. Identify Your Highest Motivation
This is probably the most important step in the entire goal setting process. I cannot overstate its importance as the foundation for goal achievement.
Get this step right and the rest of the process falls in place naturally and it is very likely that you will reach your goal.
Many of us miss this step and inadvertently are set up for disappointment.
When you consciously identify your highest motivation you have with you the master key to conquering your fitness goals.
In management, it is often referred to as personal vision. Your highest motivation is above and beyond winning,
Ability is what you are capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it. – Lou Holtz
How do you find your highest motivation? There are several approaches and they involve shifting your focus from short to long term, from the tactical to the strategic. Some recommended approaches are:
- Hiring a personal coach
- Reading well-known books on the subject. e.g. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill.
Personally, I also find the technique described below very powerful when I use it on myself or a friend. I call it the 3 step motivation and it involves asking ‘what’s important about your goal?’. As you will see in the examples below, we ask the question till we get to the highest motivation
Each iteration of the question ‘what’s important about…?’, reveal a higher motivation level.
Generally, by the third iteration, the answer provides the highest motivation.
It’s best explained with examples.
Resolution/goal: I want to lose weight.
Question 1: What’s important to you about losing weight?
Answer: Losing the excess weight will make me look better.
Question 2: What’s important to you about looking better.
Answer: I want to feel good about myself.
Question 3: Ultimately what will feeling good about yourself do for you?
Answer: Ultimately, it will make me happy. I will be healthy, travel in my retirement and live a long life.
The highest motivation for losing weight for Person 1 is “I want to be happy. I want to be healthy, travel in my retirement and live a long life.”
Resolution/goal: I want to lose weight.
Question 1: What’s important to you about losing weight?
Answer: Losing the excess weight will help me avoid diseases like diabetes.
Question 2: What’s important to you about avoiding diseases like diabetes?
Answer: I want to protect my health.
Question 3: Ultimately what will protecting your health do for you?
Answer: I don’t want to die young. I want to live long enough to see my grandchildren.
The highest motivation for losing weight for Person 2 is “I don’t want to die young. I want to live long enough to see my grandchildren.”
Did you notice how deep and powerful the highest motivation is for each person?
When the highest motivation is consciously identified (as in the examples above) it gets intrinsically associated with the fitness goal.
This has more impact than all the willpower and dedication that most of us can ever muster.
Did you also notice in the examples above while the goal is the same (lose weight) in both cases, the highest motivation is completely different?
That is how it is for all of us. We are different and unique in every way and we act on different motivations.
Be yourself; everyone else is already taken. – Oscar Wilde
2. Understanding the Process of Goal Achievement
Most of us are probably unaware of the fact that as human beings we act as goal achieving systems. Goal achievement is in our DNA!
Our motive or goals underlie all our behaviour. Sometimes the motive or goal may not be a conscious choice, it may be unconscious. In such cases, we act without thinking about where our actions will take us.
Even when we don’t realise it, there is still an underlying motive or goal that is causing us to take action towards its accomplishment.
People’s behaviour makes sense if you think about it in terms of their goals, needs, and motives – Thomas Mann
The goal achievement process can be distilled down to a 4-stage model.
- Stage 1: Decide what you want (set your goal)
- Stage 2: Take some action (Do something)
- Stage 3: Notice the results
- Stage 4: Change your actions until you get the desired result.
All our behaviours and achievements are based on this model.
3. Conquer Fitness Goals by Setting SMART Goals
Now that you understand the need to identify the highest motivation and the process of goal achievement, you are ready to set SMART fitness goals.
“Get healthy” and “I want to be fit” are far too global.
There are many ways to get healthy and get fit. For e.g. you could lose weight, wake up early, sleep on time, eat healthy, etc.
Instead be specific. For example, If you are overweight, “I want to lose weight” would be a specific goal.
Just wanting to lose weight doesn’t quite do the trick, though. You need a target number so you can measure progress.
For example, “I want to lose 5% of my body weight” meets the requirement.
It is important that the goal you set stretches you.
Your goal must take you out of your comfort zone and at the same time not be too high that it stresses you.
For example, “I want to lose 15 kg in one month” may be possible to do technically, but would push me beyond the stretch zone into the panic zone.
The goal has to be congruent, consistent and relevant with my highest motivation or personal vision (discussed previously).
The goal should not be somebody else’s goals imposed on you.
For example, look at the goal “I want to lose 5% of my body weight” through the lens of relevance. Is this a good time in your life to work on this goal?
Include an end point. Having a deadline is a great motivator for taking action.
For example, “I want to lose 5% of my body weight in the next 3 months” would work for me.
4. Turbocharge Your SMART goals
There are techniques that will make your SMART goals even more effective.
The techniques I describe below have worked for me really well.
When diligently applied to your goals together with the other techniques discussed, they will virtually guarantee your success.
State your goal positively
When asked about their goals, many people state their goals by saying what they don’t want rather than what they do want.
Saying “I don’t want to be fat” causes an internal representation in our minds of being fat. “Don’t think of a pink elephant with blue spots” causes us to visualise it first!
Stating a goal in negative terms sets in motion internal representations in the brain that manifest the wrong outcome.
Always state the outcome in terms of what you do want.
Arise! Awake! and stop not until the goal is reached. – Swami Vivekananda
Provide Context to your goal
Let your mind know Who, What, When, Where, Why and How you want the outcome.
This makes use of the most powerful tool in our arsenal of natural resources – our imagination.
If goals are to be achieved, they cannot be abstract and exist in isolation in our minds.
Applying the above questions (using imagination) to your goal will create an internal reality in the mind which will provide context to your fitness goal.
Everything great that ever happened in this world happened first in somebody’s imagination – Astrid Lindgren
Express your goal using sensory language
As humans, we perceive the world through our 5 senses – sight, sound, touch, smell and taste. Interestingly, this is true for both the physical world we experience and the internal world within us.
Use sensory language from the five senses to express your goals. This adds internal richness and clarity making the goal ‘real’ in your mind.
You now have an internal blueprint for success.
When you have finalised your fitness goals, take complete responsibility for it. It is your goal.
This means you hold yourself accountable for success or failure in achieving the goal.
This gives you the personal power and control to take action towards its achievement.
Make sure you visualize what you really want, not what someone else wants for you – Jerry Gillies
Take Action Now
Taking action now based on your goals builds positive momentum and takes you in the direction you want.
Positive momentum is an ally in your quest to conquer your fitness goals. Make it work for you and not against you.
Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision just passes the time. Vision with action can change the world.– Joel A. Barker
We don’t have to to be a statistic when it comes to achieving our fitness goals.
Consciously identifying your ultimate motivation for fitness, leveraging the process of goal achievement, setting SMART goals and turbocharging them with the techniques discussed set up formidable forces that work for you and not against you.
You now have in your hands very powerful, proven tools and techniques to conquer your fitness goals.
What other tools/techniques would you add to this list? Share your ideas in the comment section below.