The best part of being an online health coach is helping my clients reach their goals. However, women often come to me with vague or unrealistic health and fitness goals that wouldn't serve them or their body. We spend the first couple of weeks working together to come up with measurable, concrete, attainable goals that feel good and work with her lifestyle.
I've learned from my experiences that when you properly set up your goals, you have a simple, action-packed blueprint. You know exactly how you're going to build the skills you need to get the body you truly want. On the flip side, when you don't know how to set reachable goals, you get lost, overwhelmed, and confused. Usually you just end up giving up. I'm sure many of you can relate to that!
It's time to change that! I want to share with you the exact formula I use with my clients to help them set up amazing, attainable goals:
1. Focus every single day on your "action goals," not the "end goal"!
When I ask women about their fitness goals, they usually start with the outcomes they want to see. Maybe the goal is to run 10 miles, or hit a specific weight loss number, or see a change in their body. There's nothing wrong with wanting these things. In fact, I want all of my clients to have an end goal in mind. However, it's too easy to get wrapped up in the end goal. Simply wanting end goals isn't enough because we often can't control outcomes, or the outcomes arrive slower than anticipated. Every day, end goals are affected by our bodies and environments:
- You get stuck late at work and can't hit the gym.
- You need to take care of an aging parent or sick child.
- Your hormones get out of whack.
- You haven't been sleeping well lately.
You get the picture. You can't make your body (or even your life) do what you want it to. (And, unfortunately, as your health coach, neither can I.) However, you CAN control the choices you make. This is why action goals are so important: They focus on the things we actually have control over. Check out the following examples of how you can turn end goals into action goals:
- Instead of focusing daily on losing 30 pounds, try to eat slowly and mindfully, stopping when you're 80 percent full.
- Instead of staring at your abs in the mirror every day hoping your six-pack will emerge (or worse, doing 1 million crunches every day), focus on eating at least five servings of fruits and vegetables every day.
Best of all, actionable goals are easy to track and easy to accomplish every single day. You will begin to notice that it usually takes lots of action goals to reach your big end goal. Wasting your time and energy focusing only on the end goal will get you nowhere, but putting the right goals into action will.
2. Turn "stop goals" into "start goals."
- "Stop eating chocolate."
- "Stop drinking alcohol."
- "Stop eating carbs."
I can almost guarantee that you've set a stop goal in the past...am I right?
Here's the thing with stop goals: They are psychologically counterproductive. Because you tell yourself to stop doing something, it almost guarantees you'll continue to do it! Worse yet, one slip-up and you feel like a total failure.
"Start" goals pull you toward something desirable and slowly pull you away from what you're trying to avoid. It feels good to do something for ourselves that is healthy and productive!
Instead of telling yourself to stop drinking alcohol, start drinking a glass of water or milk with dinner. Instead of telling yourself you can't eat chocolate, start cutting up fruit and veggies in advance so you have a reliable, healthy ready-to-go snack.
You'll notice that once you begin to incorporate start goals, you actually feel better. Once you start eating fruits and veggies as a snack, you may begin to notice that you don't suffer from a sugar high and subsequent crash that ruins your energy to function, let alone work out and hit your other goals. The Perfect Meal Planner helps my clients turn their stop goals into easy-to-use (and implement) start goals.
To set a start goal, begin by writing down your stop goal. Then write one good habit you can use to replace your stop goal. Lastly, write down a start goal that can help support your new good habit.
3. Turn "accomplishment goals" into "proficient goals."
Accomplishment goals are really similar to end goals, except they usually focus on external validation.
- "I want to get good grades from my teacher."
- "I want to win a game to please my fans."
- "I want to beat my personal record in my marathon."
Just like end goals, accomplishment goals are often limited by factors outside of your control:
- The other sports team may be better than your own team or have home-field advantage
- It could rain or be windy on the marathon day, which can affect your running time.
As you can see, accomplishment goals often put our satisfaction and happiness in the hands of someone or something else. Proficient goals are a little bit different. They emphasize the process of getting a little bit better each and every day. You can't expect to win the game after one practice, but you can expect to see progress over time.
Proficient goals are important because no matter what others think, say, or do, you still feel great about your own personal growth. In other words, proficiency is motivating no matter what else is going on. The Perfect Meal Planner I created helps men and women become proficient at cooking healthy, balanced meals, no matter what life throws at them.
After a bad test score, a proficient-oriented student would be focused on learning from the test and becoming a better student. Contrarily, a performance-oriented student would feel defeated, like a failure.
Instead of focusing on trying to beat a personal record in your next race, focus on correcting your running form with smooth strides. Watch a video of yourself running, identify the technical elements that you can improve, and incorporate them into your own individual training plan.
If you're hoping to create better health and fitness goals that are realistic yet attainable, I am happy to give you a free copy of The Perfect Meal Planner that I use with my clients.
The right kinds of goals can help you set realistic expectations and break large projects into smaller, more manageable pieces. This prevents you from feeling overwhelmed and helps you stay committed to reaching those big "end" goals. In addition, setting the right goals puts YOU in the driver's seat. You feel accountable and responsible for the actions that lead to your results. The best part about setting the right kinds of goals is that they set you up for long-term success and inspiration as opposed to short-term "quick fixes" that ultimately end in frustration or failure.I encourage you to take an honest look at your goals. What skills do you need to develop so that you can reach your goals? Focus every single day on your action goals, not the end goal. Focus on what to do, as opposed to what NOT to do. Lastly, enjoy the process! Life is too short to not be happy. Be sure you choose behaviors that are in alignment with your goals AND your life.