We’ve all heard that goal setting is important, but does anyone know the “right” way to set goals?
Should they be short term and specific, or BHAGs (Big Hairy Audacious Goals)?
Should they be focused on outcomes or behaviors?
Should we ask, “How do I achieve my ultimate goal in less time?”
Or “How do I take one concrete step in the right direction?
In this article, I would like to share what I have learned over the last 11+ years of helping people to set and accomplish goals...and I’ll let you in on a little secret:
The problem isn’t about “how” people set goals. It’s WHY.
The Right and Wrong Reason to set a goal
If you struggle to set and accomplish goals, it’s not because you don’t know how to set goals.
You have probably tried all of the things I talked about above (and more!).
What I have noticed is that when people struggle to accomplish goals, it was not a problem with the plan.
It was because people tend to pick goals for the wrong reason.
The wrong reason for setting a goal is to accomplish the goal.
Wait, what? I know, stay with me.
If you set goals because you think that simply by achieving the goal, your life will change for the better, you are wrong. .
This is why so many people lose weight and then gain it right back. They accomplished their goal and realized that it did not produce the life-altering happiness they thought it would.
Okay...so what is the right reason to set goals?
I’m so glad you asked!
The reason to set a goal is to know if you are on track to become the type of person who has the life you want.
If you want to be active, play with your grandkids, travel, and get the most life out of your years, then being a healthy weight and getting out of pain are good goals to have.
But this only works if the reason you are losing weight or getting out of pain is because you want to become the person who has that life.
It doesn’t work the other way.
You cannot lose weight and THEN become the person. You need to become the person, THEN lose the weight.
This can be a tricky concept to understand, so let me provide a demonstration:
- Person A: Wants to lose weight to get the life they want
- Person B: Wants to become the person who has the life they want
- Person A: Does diets to get there as fast as possible
- Person B: Learns how to cook
- Person A: Gets depressed when they get on the scale and it does not change
- Person B: Sees their weight as just a number
- Person A: Exercises hard because they want to burn calories
- Person B: Exercises consistently because they know it makes them feel better
As you can see, Person A is doing things to lose weight while Person B is doing things to live a healthier life.
They will both reach their weight loss goal, but only Person B will maintain it and actually enjoy what it’s like when they get there.
Stepping Back to Set Better Goals
So if you want to start setting better goals, you need to step back and ask yourself a few questions:
1) What do I want out of life?
2) What type of person has that life?
3) How can I know if I am on track to becoming that person?
If you want to be someone who is active, happy, confident, a role model for your kids, a leader in your community, etc. then you can create goals that will help to measure your progress.
Let’s take being a role model as an example.
First, let’s start with the vision:
When I think about this, I see me and my family all together laughing. I see my kids coming to me to ask for advice. And I see us having a close and loving relationship when they are adults.
Second: what type of person has that life?
For me, it’s about managing my stress and emotions, while helping them to manage theirs.
It’s about cooking healthy meals and getting them involved.
It’s about being present with them and not getting sucked into my phone or into work in off-hours.
Last: how do I know if I am on track?
For me, I focus on headaches. When I get too stressed and get too caught up in things that are not actually important, I get headaches.
This tells me that I am not doing the things I need to take care of myself, and therefore am not in a position to be my best with my kids.
For you, it might be something else.
If appropriate, weight loss could be a good goal because it lets us know if we are demonstrating healthy eating habits for our kids.
In the end, it’s really up to you what vision you have for your life and what you think will help you become the type of person that has that life.
But when you start seeing goals in this way, you will be on track to not only hitting goals, but actually creating the life that you want.
Traditional goal-setting focuses too much on the outcome and not enough on the purpose for setting the goal in the first place.
If you want to set better goals, start by thinking about the life you want and how to become the person that has that life..
Last, pick a goal that will help you know if you are on the right track.
And if you need help going through this process, just let us know! .
We love helping people clarify what is most important and then setting goals that will help you create the life you want.
And right now, we have our 28-Day Kickstart Program going where you can not only set goals, but start taking action before the holidays arrive!
In this program you will get:
- Full fitness and goals assessment
- Personalized fitness coaching
- 1-on-1 success coaching (nutrition, exercise, and lifestyle)
- A simple meal plan
So, if you are ready to make a meaningful change in your life and start creating the health that you want, click here to learn more and take back control of your health and fitness today!
Mint Condition Fitness is the leading fitness coaching studio for men and women over 45 to lose weight, build strength, and stay active for life.