How To Set Goals

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How To Set Goals

 It is that time of year everyone is setting ‘resolutions’ and goals for the New Year. However, the stats are quite shocking when it comes to successfully accomplishing New Years resolutions and goals.

According to the University of Scranton, a whopping 92 percent of people who set New Year's goals never actually achieve them.

Why? Likely because they are only setting goals based upon the fact that it is the New Year...all the other months of the year it is not a priority. If accomplishing your goals really matters it should be something that you do year-round and re-visit frequently.

Let's dive a bit deeper into some stats revealed by a Harvard Business study relating to goal setting and success.

  • 83% of the population does not have goals
  • 14% have a plan in mind, but are unwritten goals
  • 3% have goals written down

“The study went on to find that the 14% who have goals are 10 times more successful than those without goals. The 3% with written goals are 3 times more successful than the 14% with unwritten goals.”

The stats are pretty shocking right? But, it makes a lot of sense when you think about it as I’ve been guilty of not writing things down with specifics and details. Most people may not even know what it is they truly want, so how can they write it down?

I’m not talking about writing down things like “I want to lose 30lbs” or ‘I want to make $100,000” - I’m talking about specific details of what you want, why you want it and how you are going to get there.

You don’t just start driving west if you want to go to Vegas right? There are steps you need to take to reach the destination - look at the map, identify the route, calculate the time it will take you, how much the trip will cost and make a plan for the trip. If you’re a type A personality, you may want more details such as an alternative route and a schedule to ensure you arrive on time. SAME applies with goal setting.

So my question for you is - what do you truly want?

Take some time to really think about this so we can create the RIGHT road map.

Sure, you can say you want to lose weight or eat healthier, but WHY? Do you know?

Do you just want to look better?
Feel better?
Have better health screenings?
Reduce aches/pains?
Have more confidence?
Less anxiety/stress?
Get off medication?
Stop emotional/stress eating?
Wear a dress you haven't worn in years? If so, is it the dress or are you really longing for the feeling of being confident in your skin, or sense of accomplishment when you put it on?

It is important to understand what you want to achieve, not just chasing a number on the scale. Setting goals that you don’t REALLY care about is pointless there will be nothing driving you when the ‘motivation’ wears off or you need to flex your discipline and patience muscles.

Once you have your goal in mind, we can start to break it down and assess where we currently are, where we want to go, and the best steps to take to reach the goal.

3 Types of Goals

Consider the three types of goals when defining your goal:

  • Outcome goals (the end result)
  • Process (behaviors/habits)
  • Performance (standards/results)

Each of these correlates with the other and differs based on how much control we have over it. We have the most control over process goals and the least control over outcome goals.

Here is an example:
Outcome goal - “I want to lose 50 lbs.”
Saying you want to lose 50 pounds is a BIG goal and can be done a hundred different ways… this outcome goal doesn’t define the process. The outcome is a direct result of the process and performance goals.

Process goals are the behavior you’re going to take to lose the weight and increase our chances of achieving our desired outcome goals. It’s the goal that sets the path to an outcome goal. E.g. The process goal for losing weight may include reducing calories, riding your bike, and drinking lots of water.

Last but not least, the performance goal is the standards or metrics at which we will perform our process goals. E.g. the performance goals for losing weight based on the process goals 
above may be to lose weight by eating 1600 calories a day or less, riding my bike for 30 minutes 5 times per week, and drinking 3 liters of water at per day.

The key to all of this is getting specific with the action steps as is where many people fall short. You need to write out the necessary steps and have a plan to put it into action. Questions to consider include:

  • What activities do I need to complete to achieve my goal and in what timeframe?
  • What resources do I need?
  • Who can help me achieve my goal?
  • What is realistic and sustainable? Don’t say “I will workout every day” - that is not realistic or sustainable. Start with a goal of 3x a week, be specific with the time i.e. Monday, Tuesday and Thursday at 5:30am. You know you can get to the gym at those times consistently and you have a buffer of 4 other days if your schedule changes one week. Down the road, you can add another workout if it is realistic for your schedule, but you want to feel successful and that starts with being realistic and specific so you can sustain it.

Tips for defining and setting a meaningful goal 

  • Take time and create the vision of how you will feel when you accomplish your goal

  • Pick something you will enjoy - if you hate running, don’t use running as your form of exercise. Take a few classes, try a few types of exercise and do the one that you enjoy.

  • Plan for extra time to accomplish the goal - losing 50 lbs may take you a year, or more. Don’t start off with an unrealistic goal because you will already feel defeated. Buffer time for life to happen because things will come up that set you back. 

  • Give yourself some grace along the way - as long as you’re focusing on the process and what you can control (your behaviors and habits) you will reach the outcome.

  • Celebrate your wins! Because effective weight loss happens slowly, I encourage people to celebrate small milestones. When you succeed with process and performance goals, you will reap the benefits of achieving their outcome goals if you do not become discouraged and quit.


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