Tip of the Day: Set Goals
Setting Goals (And Objectives)
Goal setting is the art that makes everything else possible. It adds aim to energy, focuses effort and, for some, structures time. Surveys show that people who plan ahead are much more successful over the long term than those who plunge in without knowing where they're going or how they'll get there. You wouldn't take a long road trip without a map so it makes good sense to have a compass (and road map) for your fitness objectives.
Goals Should Be Smart
- S = Specific. Saying, "I'll go to exercise class," is not a specific goal. I have a clearer picture when I write, "Next week I will attend step class at 9:30 a.m. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday."
- M = Measurable. Set goals that are measurable in quality or quantity. Measuring body fat percentage, hip to waist ratio or journaling and record keeping of diet intake or workouts achieved or increases in heart rate reserve are powerful and motivating tools to assuring a new habit becomes a long term behavior. Instead, make plans for an individual workout that nurtures you. Many folks find they're more committed to measurable goals if they report to a friend or colleague willing to help monitor their progress.
- A = Attainable. In the enthusiasm of the moment we often make promises that are difficult to keep when enthusiasm wanes. If you're looking for a magic bullet the chances are you'll end up shooting yourself in the foot. Realizing that change doesn't happen overnight will help you set realistic goals you can achieve. It's the SMALL changes that are the key to permanent lifestyle change. For example, if are trying to lose weight you should avoid the painful rebound of crash dieting by planning to lose no more than one or two pounds a week.
- R = Realistic. Goals should reflective of your values and compatible with your lifestyle. If not they can be the source of distress. Success is about learning how to customize your activities to find the right fit for you. For example, if you don't enjoy working out with others it's unrealistic to join an aerobic exercise class. I enjoy being with people most of the time, but have learned that my new heart rate monitor based exercise program is much more fun when I stride out on my own where I can manage my pace without distraction and return with a sense of accomplishment in addition to the satisfaction of another completed workout.
- T = Timely. It's not smart to plan too many changes at once-it's too threatening to your internal sense of balance. Before you begin be certain you can identify other areas of your life that might be stressful and prevent you from "doing what you want to do". For example, although a workout can be an important stress reducer if it makes your schedule more unmanageable you may have to postpone a new weight training program or fitness class until it's more in keeping with a balanced lifestyle.