You want to lose weight, sleep better, get stronger, or feel more flexible. You know the person you want to be but you're having trouble getting there. You're not alone - we all struggle to set and reach our health and fitness goals.
But if you adopt the right type of goals and follow a specific goal-setting process you are more likely to succeed.
Let's talk about the different types of goals to consider.
As the name suggests, outcomes goals are what you want to achieve. For example, I want to lose 15 pounds or I want to complete a marathon - those are outcomes goals.
But having only an outcome goal is not enough. How do you plan to lose those pounds or train for that race? You need to be more specific with your intentions.
Not to mention if you don't reach your outcome goal you're likely to lose confidence in yourself which deters you from trying new goals.
If it's helpful for you to start with an outcomes goal - great! If not, consider using process or implementation goals instead.
Process goals are steps you can take to reach your outcomes goals. Let's return to the weight loss example. Your outcome goal is to lose 15 pounds. What could your process goals be?
Exercise at a moderate intensity for 45 minutes, 5 days a week
Increase my vegetable intake to 5 servings per day
Reduce my consumption of simple carbs by 1 serving a day
These are just examples! You can create your own process goals based on what you aim to achieve. Remember that tracking your progress is a great way to celebrate your successes on your journey towards your outcome goal.
The other benefit to process or implementation goals is that they are rewarding right away. The more times you execute them, the better you feel and the more confident you become in your ability to sustain healthy habits.
You don't have to wait to feel proud of yourself until you lose 15 pounds - you can be proud of every day you stick to your plan.
Starting the Goal Setting Process
There are a few ways to create health and fitness goals. Here is the set of steps that I have found most helpful when working with individuals that want to make a meaningful change to their health.
Step 1: Your Vision
Who do you want to be? It's not an easy question to answer. But when you imagine yourself at your healthiest and happiest, what does that look like to you?
Are you gardening without joint pain? Are you jogging with your kids on the beach? Take a few minutes to write down what you think of when you think of your healthiest overall self.
Step 2: Transform Vision to Outcomes Goals
You have words, phrases, and images for your healthy vision. Now it's time to take that vision and create your macro or outcomes goals.
Looking to sleep better and feel well-rested? Your macro outcomes goal might be 8 hours of sleep per night.
This step is key when working on goal setting. List as many goals as you can think of and you can narrow it down later in the process.
Step 3: Transform Macro/Outcomes Goals to Micro/Process Goals
This part is tougher. It requires you to brainstorm exactly what steps you'll need to take to reach the outcomes goals. If you're unsure what those steps are, consider doing your own research or work with a health coach like me to make a plan.
Your goal is to eat healthier. What smaller goals will help you reach that goal? Think about making the goals as small as possible at this point.
Step 4: Goals into Habits
This is the last and most important step in reaching your health and fitness goals. Take your micro or process goals and think about how you can make those a habit that fits seamlessly into your life.
What environmental changes do you need to make? How can you make your process goals convenient and rewarding right away?
During this last step, it's time to narrow your focus to a few implementation goals. Start small with manageable goals. Over time, you will be able to start adding goals as you establish your confidence to make lasting, meaningful changes.
Setting Goals with Instant Rewards
If you pick meaningful implementation goals, you will be rewarded right away. Each day that you engage in the behavior is a win. And the more days, weeks, months, or years you string together that behavior, the closer you will be to your ultimate vision for yourself and your life.
Setting goals is a powerful tool for change. But instead of focusing on the destination, think about the journey. Because along the journey is where you establish healthy habits and habits stick with you longer than short-term goals.
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