How to Set Fitness Goals and Crush Them
Setting goals sounds easy. There’s a thing you want to do, so you say you’re going to do it. ‘Nuff said, right?
Unfortunately, setting fitness goals isn’t as simple as it seems on the surface. Accomplishing fitness goals requires planning, commitment, and smart methods for keeping yourself motivated.
Ahead, learn eight crucial steps to setting fitness goals and absolutely crushing them.
1. Evaluate Your Current Mindset
Get out some paper and a pen and start writing about what you like and don’t like about your current situation. Think about what made you pursue fitness goals in the first place: Is it because you got winded after a flight of stairs? You struggle to keep up with the kids? You don’t feel comfortable in your skin? You’ll want to remember these feelings as you work toward your fitness goals — recalling how you feel now will serve as a source of motivation later.
2. Identify Opportunities in Your Schedule
Think about a typical day of your life and identify times you can dedicate to your fitness goals. It might be helpful to commit to the same time each day to leave less room for missing or skipping workouts. You don’t necessarily need an hour or more a day. Even 20 to 30 minutes a day can propel you toward your goals.
Scheduling your workouts like meetings can help you stay dedicated.
3. Define Your Desires
Write down what you want out of this process. What are you earning in reward for the work you’re putting in? This is the most important part of the goal-setting process: Without defining your desires, you can’t set goals.
Maybe you want to fit in your old favorite jeans; be able to complete household duties without pain; thru-hike the Appalachian trail; run your first marathon. Everyone is different, and your goals should be true to your desires.
4. Remember to be SMART
Most people have been hearing about SMART goals since preschool, and quite frankly, it gets tiresome. But this goal-setting method is used so often because it works. SMART goals are:
- Specific: Don’t be vague. “I want to lose weight” is a goal, sure, but it’s extremely subjective and won’t motivate you to work hard for a specific outcome.
- Measurable: When it comes to fitness goals, numbers are king. Increase your squat PR by 20 pounds, run a 7-minute mile, lose 15 pounds in six months. You must be able to measure your progress to keep working toward your goal.
- Attainable: It’s great to dream big, but if you dream too big, you might feel overwhelmed by your goal. Set goals you can realistically achieve to keep motivation high.
- Relevant: If your goal means nothing to you, you’re unlikely to put in the work needed to achieve it. You must be emotionally connected to the goal in some way.
- Timely: Good goals are time-bound. As Parkinson’s Law states, “Work expands to fill the period of time available for its completion.” This means your goal will take as long as you allow it to take.
Reaching fitness goals is about careful planning and dedication.
5. Consider Your Common Hurdles
Everyone has excuses. Think about the excuses you often use to get out of responsibilities or activities you don’t feel like doing. Maybe you say:
- I’m too tired
- I got off of work late
- I have to wake up early
- I’m too sore
Write down the last three excuses you made and decide how you’re going to get past them. You will probably have to make sacrifices, like skipping Netflix to get an extra hour of sleep.
6. Make Your Goal Public
Shout your goal from the rooftop! If your friends, family members and colleagues know about your fitness goals, you’re more likely to achieve them. No one wants to disappoint the people they care about, after all.
Alternatively, if going public makes you feel queasy, tell just one person. This person should be close to you and feel comfortable giving you a nudge if you’re falling off-track. Best case scenario, this person will work toward fitness goals of their own.
Group fitness is a great way to work toward fitness goals.
7. Hire a Professional
There are people out there who have dedicated their lives to helping people in your position. If you feel stuck, unsure, or otherwise unable to pursue your fitness goals, consider hiring a professional who can help you define your goals and create a plan to help you achieve them. This could be a personal trainer or health coach, or it could be as simple as committing to your favorite group exercise instructor’s class each week.
8. Don’t Be Afraid to Adjust
Perfection is the enemy of success. If things are going south and you can’t turn the wheel no matter what you try, it’s time to adjust your goals or your methods. For instance, if your goal was to work out five days a week but you consistently miss the fifth workout, instead of beating yourself up about it, adjust your goal to four days a week and think of ways you can make the most of those four workouts.
This last step is where it’s really beneficial to have a professional in your corner. Learn more about what it’s like to have a personal trainer to help you reach your fitness goals.