Why Setting a Goal is NOT Enough

Many experts, including myself, recommend setting goals.  Goals are important, but often goal setting is the easy part.  New Years Resolutions are a great example.  You are excited and energized about new plans, new possibilities.  Setting a goal may be as far as you get.  Or, you may work toward it for a week or two, then get off track, never to get back on the path to success.   What is the difference between those who are successful and those who fail?
Here’s why.  Life is busy.  It’s that simple.  Things get in the way.  You lose focus; priorities change, or you may even forget about your goal altogether.
If you want to be successful, you need to do more than simply a set a goal.  Here are seven things you must do to achieve your goal.
1. Find your emotional why.   In my last article I listed finding your ‘why’ as one of the principles for success.  It is worth mentioning again.  Dennis Waitley wrote “if the why is strong enough, the how is not usually a problem”.  The stronger the emotional connection to your goal, the greater your ability is to overcome barriers.  For example, a goal may be to remove processed food from your diet.  If the only reason is because someone once said it’s bad for you, you may have trouble sticking to it.  However, if its because you are tired of feeling bloated, and lethargic, and want to have energy to play with your kids when they come home from school, you will have a stronger adherence to your plan.
2. Be laser focused on your goal.  I honestly believe that the reason many people fail to reach their goal is because they simply forget about them.  The first step, of course, is #1 in this article.  Next, is to review your goal daily.   Write out your goal on a card, and carry it with you everywhere you go.  Set reminders on your phone to read your goals on a daily basis.  Become intimate with your goals!  Personally, I set time aside to review my goals weekly, and then schedule a time each day to work on my goal.
3. Measure.  You cannot improve what you cannot measure.  The “M” of SMART goal setting is to set a measurable goal.  (Goals should be Specific, Measureable, have an Action Plan, Realistic and Time-bound).  To stay on track, measure often.  If you want to lose body fat, measure yourself weekly.  If you want to get faster at running, do a time trial on a regular interval.  If you want to increase the servings of vegetables you eat in a day, count how many veggies you have and write it on your calendar.
4. Get on a program that works- for YOU.  Recently, a potential participant in our upcoming 21-Day Challenge described how she lost 80 pounds- simply by eating hardly anything at all.  She gained much of the weight back because the plan she was on made it impossible to socialize, to go out on holidays, or eat anything that tasted good, and she was unhappy.   Unfortunately, she decided to pass on the challenge, so I never had the opportunity to show her that there is a way to lose weight, keep it off, and love life!
Setting a goal is a good start, but in order to achieve the goal you need to take action and get on a program that works- for you.  You may lose weight by eating only vegetables and chili powder, but you’ll have a tough time sticking with it.   When it comes to health and fitness, a complete program includes a sound nutrition program, resistance training, cardiovasulcar conditioning, flexibility training and coaching and support.
5. Expect ups and downs.  When you set a goal, a set back can deflate your excitement.  You may wonder ‘is it worth it?’ or ‘I failed, what’s the point of going on?’.   Expect that you will have ups and downs on the path to reaching your goal.  But, anything worth having is worth fighting for.  An example is during our 21-Day Challenge in May.  One participant stuck with the program to a tee, but only lost 0.4 pounds in her first week.  She was devastated, and in tears.  Consciously she knew (and I reiterated) that weight fluctuates, and two weigh-ins only a week apart do not tell the whole story.  She had tried so hard, yet didn’t see the results she was expecting.  After a long conversation, I encouraged her to stick with the program.  She did, and at her next weigh-in her hard work paid off with a 6-pound weight loss.  She then invested in a long-term program and has continued on her wellness journey!
6. Celebrate successes on the path to your goal.  We are tough on ourselves, period.  We constantly think we should be doing better, or berate ourselves for ‘slipping up’.  This mindset is stressful, which is counterproductive to reaching most goals, and especially health and wellness related goals.   Instead of only focusing on the negatives (I ate too much, I should have said no to dessert at dinner, etc.) start to give yourself credit for your successes, as little as they may seem.  In real time, give yourself credit every time you do something that moves you toward your goal.  After eating proper portions at dinner acknowledge your success.  When you go for a walk on your lunch hour, give yourself credit.  Your internal celebrations will help you build confidence and fuel the fire to make more action steps toward your goal.
7. Have support.  I have learned to stop trying to learn everything on my own; I seek out other people who are doing what I want to do, and I do what they are doing.  One common trait of everyone who I see who is successful is they surround themselves with a support system.  To successfully reach your goal, build a solid support network.  Align yourself with friends, or family who will truly support you and help you progress toward your goal.  If your loved ones are not immediately supportive, be honest and open with them.  Let them know why this is important to you, and how they can help you.
While setting a goal is an important first step, simply setting a goal is not enough.  Follow the seven steps to be successful!
-Dedicated to your success,
Tanja Shaw is the owner of Ascend Fitness Inc., a private training studio.  Tanja and her team of expert fitness professionals work to inspire and educate Chilliwack residents to make positive and power changes in their lives through physical fitness and sound nutrition.  For more fitness tips go to www.ascendfitnesscoaching.com.

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