It’s appropriate right now, as we are launching OthFit.com, to write about how to start anything out the right way. Since this is a fitness blog we will focus on fitness goals but this advice will work for anything.
We have all done it, we set out to achieve a goal with the best of intentions of following through. For a little while we do great but then it all falls apart. Not long after starting we go back to our old ways and we lose all the progress we made.
It’s the oldest story in the book and it happens all the time. It’s the reason that gyms are packed in January and empty in October. But it doesn’t have to be that way for you this time.
There are many different scientifically researched methods for goal setting. You might be familiar with S.M.A.R.T. (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, timely) or the GROW (goal, current reality, obstacles, will) Models. We have studied many of them and put together this article. We will be using it as we launch and grow OthFit.com and I hope it will help you as well.
Below are the 9 things you have to do if you want to be successful and reach your goals.
1. Decide Why Success is Important to You
Think about why this goal is important to you. Without a strong personal motivation, it will be much more difficult to stick with your goal. Think about what achieving your goal means to you. One of the best ways to do that is to imagine how being successful will improve your life.
First, think about t how achieving your goal will improve your life. Imagine your life now, compared to how much better it could be. Use that image as motivation. Don’t forget to consider those around you that you will be helping out as well.
Second, consider what the short-term and long-term consequences are for failing. Some goals may have minor or no consequences at all. Many, especially with health and fitness, may have literal life and death consequences. Use this as motivation as well.
Many people find it helpful to write down these benefits and consequences. You can put that in your wallet, put it in your gym bag, or hang it on the refrigerator door. Wherever you keep it it’s a powerful reminder why you are working so hard.
2. Make Your Goal Clear and Realistic
We mentioned the S.M.A.R.T. method earlier and here is where that comes into play. I could write an entire article on the SMART method (and many people already have) but here is the short version.
Set a goal that is specific enough that you could tell a stranger in the elevator and they will understand what you are going to do. If it requires more than that then goal likely needs more refinement.
For example; “get healthier” is a good thing to do but a terrible goal because it isn’t specific. A better goal would be “Walk for 30 minutes after dinner every evening”. Another example might be; instead of “eat better” make it “Stay under 2,000 calories and cut out sugary drinks.
Your goals have to be realistic as well. Don’t set yourself up for failure before you even begin with a goal that’s too difficult. Take into account everything from how much time you can devote to your current condition. It is better to set the goal too easy and achieve it early than to set the goal too difficult and get discouraged.
Be careful not to set the goal TOO easy though. Sure you will succeed and that might feel good but you won’t achieve as much as you would if you pushed yourself harder.
3. Set a Reasonable Deadline
Think about what you want to accomplish and then decide on a date to accomplish it by. Consider realistically how long it should take you and don’t forget to plan around any major events coming up. A common mistake is to set a 3 or 6-month plan without taking holidays or vacations into account.
Write that date down, put it on your calendar, put it on your bathroom mirror. Whatever it takes to remind yourself that you have a deadline approaching. Ask anyone who has worked under a reasonable deadline and they will tell you that it creates urgency and pushes you to work harder.
4. Get a Support System in Place
There will be times when you lack motivation and you are going to suffer setbacks. When that happens you will need to have a strong support system in place to get you over those hurdles. Don’t wait until you need them to reach out, it will be too late then.
Get your friends and family involved right away.
I will also recommend that you find online support groups and join them. I’m not going to even try to list all the groups here, there are too many. I recommend looking at reddit.com and Facebook as I have had great success finding support groups on both.
5. Put it on your schedule
Now that you know exactly what you are going to do, how you’re going to do it, and when your deadline is it’s time to make a schedule. Pull out your calendar and set aside blocks of time to work on your goal.
Take this opportunity to plan out what you need to do each day. Figure out what preparation you need to do in advance. Planning it out and putting it on your daily schedule will make it that much harder to put it off or forget.
If you use an online calendar you can share it with your support group and they can hold you accountable. Once it’s been on your schedule for a while it will be as routine as showering or brushing your teeth. And just as unskippable too.
6. Eliminate Excuses
You should try and address all your excuses in advance. I have them, you have them. Everyone has excuses. Knee hurts, it’s raining, you didn’t sleep well, and the list goes on and on. If you are honest with yourself you probably already know what excuses you will be telling yourself. Address those right now.
Make a decision that you won’t accept any excuses and you won’t make any excuses.
Ninety-nine percent of the failures come from people who have the habit of making excuses.George Washington Carver
7. Make it Fun
Whatever you’re doing to reach your goals, have some fun with it. You have heard the old saying “Do what you love and you will never work a day in your life.” That is especially true for health and fitness goals. Have fun with it.
Lots of the changes you will be making, and the activities you will be doing, are going to be hard at first. In the beginning, your determination may be enough to keep you going. You will need to add some fun to keep yourself from giving up.
If you’re doing something that you aren’t enjoying, and you can’t find a way to make it fun, there is no harm in re-evaluating. There might be ways to make progress with a different activity. For example, I hate running because I get so much knee pain. So instead I will often replace running with swimming. I still get my cardio work in, but in a way that I don’t hate.
We have a whole series of posts planned out on how to make different fitness activities more fun. As we finish those we will update this post with links. I would also suggest reaching out to your support group for suggestions.
8. Measure and Adjust
Whatever your goal is, measure your initial starting point before you begin. As you work towards your goal, keep track of your progress over time. This will help motivate you when your being successful and will help warn you when what your doing isn’t working.
The primary indicator of your success is going to be how well you track progress and make changes. It is very likely that your initial game-plan won’t get you all the way to your goal. There will be setbacks, you may plateau, or things don’t work for whatever reason.
That is why it is important to keep track of your progress. This way you can identify when something isn’t working and make changes early. You can also see when something is working better than expected as well and do more.
9. Reward Yourself
I saved the best for last. Don’t forget to celebrate your achievements and reward yourself. Making big changes and pushing yourself is hard work. You should feel proud of yourself for every single step you take on the way.
Share your successes with your support group and invite them to celebrate along with you. Share your successes with us as well because we would love to hear about them. Plus I never pass up an opportunity to celebrate.
There you go, that’s the 9 things you will need to do if you want to achieve any goal. If you have questions or comments we would love to hear from you.
I hope that this has been helpful for you. If you would like to share it with your friends and family we would appreciate it. Thank you for reading.