The Impact of Goal Setting

It is widely accepted that setting goals is a successful way to encourage adherence to long term-exercise.

Ask any athlete and they will tell you that goal setting enables them to track their achievements and maintain activity levels, particularly when training becomes more challenging.

Choosing the most effective goal setting approach; be it outcome, process or performance based goals depends on each individual and personal motivation factors.

Before you make any lifestyle changes, you should know why you want to change your fitness and you should be consciously making that decision for yourself.

Write down 3 goals you want to achieve, why you want to achieve them and what it will mean to you once you do.

Also, recognize what it would mean if you don’t reach those goals.

Now post your goals some where you can see and review them every day. Having a crystal-clear vision of what you want to achieve and why is imperative for success.

Now that you’ve clarified why you want to change your fitness status, it is useful to get a fitness evaluation from a skilled professional. This will help you determine what your current fitness level is and help you set realistic, attainable goals for your future.

First, you want to look at your overall fitness, what goals you have and just how realistic they are?

Setting expectations too high can leave you discouraged and unmotivated. Most long-term goals should be focused around a 3-6 month period.

Examples of long-term goals include:

  • Lose 10-lbs in 12 weeks
  • Run a 5K road race in 3 months
  • Walk 1 mile in less than 15 minutes
  • Do 10 push-ups

Once you’ve determined overall goals, decide how to accomplish them by setting short-term goals.

Too often, this is a forgotten step and the very reason attrition rates in fitness clubs are high. To stay motivated, we need smaller, short-term accomplishments along the way.

Example of short-term goals:

  • Make it through an entire aerobic session (i.e., spinning class, treadmill workout, water aerobics) without stopping.
  • Improve last weeks walk or run mile time by 10 seconds.
  • Ride your bike 4 times this week for 20 minutes each session.
  • For 1 month, don’t take the closest parking spot at the mall.
  • Drink 8 glasses of water every day.
  • Eat a piece of fruit everyday.

Next, plan immediate goals.

These are goals that you have for each day/every workout. This way your workouts become more productive and you’re not spinning your wheels at the gym.

Examples include:

  • Warming up and cooling down at each workout.
  • Walking or running 2 miles
  • Choosing a low-fat lunch item.

Finally, once you’ve reached a goal, reward yourself.

It’s important that we recognize our accomplishments and give due credit. If you’ve biked 20 miles a week for 4 weeks, buy those new shoes you’ve been eyeing. Or maybe you’ve stuck to your guns and lost 15 pounds, go ahead and buy that new watch you’ve wanted, you’ve certainly earned it!

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