Effective Goal Setting

Goals. A select few of you will remember waaaay back in my very first post, when I talked about goals vs. resolutions, and how I believe it’s the specificity of goals that makes them a better option. Well let’s go back to that today.

I really believe that to truly be effective in training, fitness, and nutrition, you need to have goals. Without goals, you have nothing to work towards, nothing to focus your attention on, no real rhyme or reason to what you’re doing. But goals can’t just be vague statements with no actual thought put into them, they need to have specific components to make sure that you can actually reach those goals and know exactly when you’ve done so.

Back when I was an undergrad Athletic Training student, we would have to set goals at every clinical rotation we went to. But we couldn’t just write goals. They had to be SMART goals. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely). Every semester, I would roll my eyes at the Acronym, groaning about how I didn’t see the point in having to make my goals so gosh darn detailed. And if any current AT students are reading this, they’re probably rolling their eyes too.

F your SMART goals, Stephanie. 

But you know what? Now I get it. What’s the point in setting a goal if you can’t measure it or if you don’t have a timeline?

Let’s look at an example:

Shittastic Goal:

I want to get really strong and be able to squat more. 

Ok, so what? You want to be able to squat 1 pound more? 10 pounds more? If you could squat 1 more pound, 10 years from now, would that make you happy? Would that be a goal successfully completed? 

Awesome Goal:

I will increase my back squat 1RM by 15 pounds in 6 months. 

Now we’re talking. It’s specific (back squat, increasing by 15 lbs), timely (6 months), attainable and realistic (depending on what level of lifting you’re at, 15 lb in 6 months is realistic, but this will vary person to person). 

THIS is the type of goal that you can really focus on. The type of goal that when you reach it, you will know it, and you’ll be able to give yourself a big ol’ high five for doing so. (or pound, or your celebratory hand shake of choice)

And this doesn’t just have to go for your big goals. This can be put into place for the little things too! I’ve set some new goals for myself recently, because I know that I fall into habits more easily when I have numbers to focus on. Remember the fitness challenge I’m doing at work? Last week I had to drink 6-8 glasses of water per day. That’s not my challenge this week, but it is a goal for myself to continue doing this.

Along with setting the right type of goals, for a lot of people I know (me included), it helps drastically to have something in writing. I’m much more apt to follow a goal if it’s written down, or if I sign my name to something. I have no idea why, it’s just the way it is. So to help me out with that, I found a nifty little tool online that you can use to easily write and track your goals on a weekly basis. It’s called Joe’s Goals, and is nothing fancy, but you don’t need your goals to be fancy, do you? I find this tool to be useful for the smaller, short term, day to day goals that you may have, just to keep yourself accountable. Here’s an example of what I’ve done:

Add: GoalorLogbook My Account|Print|Reports|Sort Goals|Sign Out
Tue
6/5
Wed
6/6
Thu
6/7
Fri
6/8
Sat
6/9
Sun
6/10
Mon
6/11
Do someone a favor +1
Checks: 3
Chain: 1
today
Strength Train +1
Checks: 5
today
Make My Own Coffee +1
Checks: 8
Chain: 5
today
Buy coffee out -1
Checks: 2
Gap: 5
6 days ago
Sleep at least 7 hours +2
Checks: 8
Chain: 8
today
Food Prep for week +3
Checks: 0
Chain: 0
NA
Take fish oil and Vit D +1
Checks: 8
Chain: 1
today
Eat Greens at 2 meals +1
Checks: 3
Chain: 3
today
Drink 6-8 Glasses H2O per day +1
Checks: 8
Chain: 8
today
5 5 6 5 7 5 8

I like this because it’s simple and is something quick that can keep me accountable at the end of every day. My bigger, longer term goals aren’t here, but trust me, I have those in writing too!

I encourage you to check it out if you’re someone who does better when they have their goals in writing… I actually really like that you can put things in that will take away points (buying coffee out for me), because that keeps those little things in the back of my mind as well! (If I’m not careful, I’ll buy coffee out every day, which is NOT ok for the wallet. I do give myself one or maybe 2 days per week though where I can go get my barista fix.)

Don’t forget about this week’s challenge, I hope you’ve all been busy taking the stairs everywhere! Also don’t forget to shoot me an email with your fitness and nutrition goals so I can do a big post about reader goals on Monday. (itrainthereforeieat@gmail.com) I’ll also share more of my own goals with you then too!  Some of you have already sent them in, and they are great… Keep ’em coming! 

**For those of you who have told me you don’t have any stairs in your daily life, listen here: My extra-points challenge for my work program this week is to climb 1000 stairs over the course of the week (which I didn’t know before I created this challenge, I swear!) So if you don’t encounter any stairs regularly (like me, and I know at least 2 of you)…Feel free to join me in seeking out stairs to climb all week long!  If YOU get to 1000, be sure to send me an email for some special recognition on Monday!

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12 thoughts on “Effective Goal Setting

  1. This is such a great post– I feel like setting realistic goals helps you achieve them rather than going for something way out of your reach. And man I love that goal page thingy too, how awesome is that!! 🙂

  2. So I have just set up my goal chart – this is totally me!!! I love this post and I am so glad that i read yours first thing this morning (Alaska is where I am at). THANK YOU – this was great!

  3. OMG it is so funny that you posted this! I wrote a blog post for my work this morning about goal setting, and said much of the same things as you. It’s amazing how many people set such vague goals!

  4. That gif! It’s…transfixing…

    Great post! My goal is to start running before work in the mornings because I normally only ever workout post-work and on the weekends. I did it for the first time this a.m. in the wind and rain, so I think if we ever get any bloody run around these parts it might just happen!

    • Ha, isn’t it though? I could stare at that for days 🙂 And Good Luck running before work!! That’s a great goal — some people do much better with morning workouts (I’m one of them), so if that’s what’ll work best in your life, than go for it!

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