When it comes to setting fitness goals, it is important to adopt a new way of thinking. That is, forget about the number on the scale or selecting an all-too-common target such as “I want to lose weight.” The problem with these mentalities is that they do not serve as the best guideline for allowing you to easily achieve and or measure results. “I want to be healthier,” for example, is not narrow enough in scope and there are many ways to get there; that target may require you to stop smoking, drinking, eating poorly, living a sedentary lifestyle or a combination of the above. In order to effectively set standards for achieving your fitness objectives, it is time to get S.M.A.R.T!
A fitness goal needs to have a clear-cut path for achievement. It should not be ambiguous or open-ended. Instead of setting the goal, “I want to exercise more,” aim for a distinct target like, “I want to run for 20 minutes seven days of the week.” This provides you with specific criteria to be met in order to reach your goal.
In order to achieve your fitness targets and ensure results, you must have a goal that is measurable. There needs to be a way in which you can continuously track your progress, which typically means that your goal will require a number. You could say, for instance, “in three weeks, I want to be able to do 15 pushups.” Obviously this goal relates to getting stronger, but the number provides you with a means of actually measuring your results. You know exactly how many pushups you are aiming for and you have also given yourself a time period for working towards that goal.
It is key to set goals that are realistic and that can be achieved. It is easy to get caught up in wanting a certain result in a very short timeframe, which may not be feasible due to time restraints or other limitations. Fitness goals almost always take patience and persistence, as they need to be taken day by day. Only you know your limits, so set goals that are challenging but not too far out of reach.
Set a goal that is both important and applicable to where you are in life. Focus on targets that have positive benefits and that you truly want; do not get caught up in working towards a goal that someone might be pressuring you into. This will make it easier to stay motivated and keep you committed to reaching the goal.
Give your goal a deadline! This will help you map out your plan of action for how you will achieve it. Additionally, this will motivate you to get started in addition to giving you an imaginary “finish line” to strive for.
Guidelines for Achieving your Fitness Goals
- Make Exercise Habitual: Schedule fitness into your daily routine. Pencil it on your calendar, make it an appointment in your phone or write a note to remind yourself that working out is a regular commitment. This will help you stay on track in order to achieve your goals.
- Dedicate “Me” Time: It is difficult to juggle work, family, friends and other obligations, but saying that you “don’t have the time to exercise” is no excuse. You owe it to yourself to focus on your health by making it a top priority. Along with that means you allowing yourself to make time to exercise.
- Get a Personal Trainer or Workout Buddy: Exercising with a trainer or workout buddy is a great way to hold yourself accountable because you have to incorporate it into your schedule. Additionally, this will give you a motivation boost because you have someone else to help push you to your limits and challenge you.
- Reward Yourself: As you start seeing results and get closer to reaching your goal, reward yourself after achieving mini-milestones. You could treat yourself to a massage, for example, or a new workout outfit, as you progress and improve. This will provide reinforcement and help fuel you to keep working towards your end goal.
- Keep it Fun: Constantly mix things up! Do different types of exercises, work different muscle groups, alternate intensity levels and diversify your workouts so that no workout is ever the same. This will keep things exciting and prevent your body from adapting to repeat routines, causing a plateau in results.
- Focus on the Benefits: Measure your progress by focusing on the benefits of fitness. Exercise improves mood; reduces depression, anxiety and stress; gives you more energy; helps keep you focused; and improves your body image and confidence. Use these benefits as scales for helping you to achieve your goals. As you start seeing and feeling these positive changes, you will be even more motivated to keep up the good work!