When setting fitness goals, we often accidentally muddy our paths by being too eager or too ambitious in our goal setting, according to Dr. Galasso. Taking a calm, confident approach to goal setting is best when setting individual goals.
“Really think about what you want to achieve and the resources that you’re able to dedicate to your workouts, your diet and your recovery [between exercise sessions],” says Dr. Galasso. For instance, the biggest obstacle that prevents most people from creating healthy habits is not the desire to be healthier, but the “time” to do so, according to Galasso. “When setting goals, being open, honest and nonjudgmental about your resources is crucial,” he says.
For example, if you find your schedule is packed with work, parenting and other commitments, then instead of immediately committing to working out at the gym for an hour four times per week, consider your schedule, priorities and time constraints first.
Setting SMART Goals
The SMART goal-setting strategy is a popular method for setting and obtaining all sorts of goals, and it works particularly well for fitness. Life Time master personal trainer Danny King breaks down the components of a SMART goal below.
- Specific: Is your goal clear and defined?
- Measurable: Can it be tracked? How will you know if you’re making progress?
- Achievable: Is your goal challenging yet doable?
- Realistic: Is your goal relevant to your life purpose?
- Timely: Can you assign a date to hold yourself more accountable?
“Done correctly, SMART goals can be super effective, but most people don’t do it quite right,” explains King. He says SMART goals work best with process-oriented goals rather than outcome goals. Process goals are focused on the actual steps it takes to reach a specific outcome rather than focusing solely on the outcome itself.
For example, a process-oriented goal would be completing a specific number of workouts per week. Meanwhile, an outcome goal would be to lose a specific amount of weight. “The problem with using SMART goal setting for outcome-oriented goals like weight loss is that they are messy and hard to control,” explains King. “It’s not always easy to know what’s realistic or the exact timeframe it will take to achieve the goal.”
Not meeting a big outcome-oriented goal can lead to discouragement—even if you’re making significant progress—simply because it didn’t happen on your expected timeline. “I encourage [my clients] to make a big, exciting outcome-oriented goal and then a series of SMART process goals under that goal that will help them achieve the overall desired goal,” says King.
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