Whether we verbalize or write them down, we all have some type of goal we hope to accomplish with our exercise programs. Goal setting is all well and good and there is tons of research that supports the practice. If goal setting is so good though, how come it seems so hard to maintain our routines? The problem is more than likely the actual goal’s we’ve set or the reasoning behind the goals.
There are many areas in life where setting an end goal is a good thing. Maybe you want to graduate from college within the next 2 years, maybe you want have a set amount of money saved for your child’s college tuition, you have a deadline at work, you want to retire at a specific age, the list goes on and on. Those are just a few examples of areas of our lives where it is ok to look at the end of the road and set goals based on our desired outcome. The problem we run into with fitness goals however is setting long term outcome goals before we have developed new habits and failing to view fitness as a lifetime “event.”
Typically if you are in the process of setting new fitness goals they are going to be something along the lines of getting bigger, smaller, stronger, or in better shape. All are worthy goals and there are tons of programs that can help you achieve each one of them. The process to achieve these goals is what needs to be examined. Starting out with a pre-made program is an ideal way because it takes out a lot of the confusing programming work that may deter you from starting. We can also start by setting process goals over outcome goals. Knowing that the program you have will make you better, make it a goal to just show up each day the program requires. Set a goal to track your stats such as weight lifted, health markers or even overall feelings. Work to develop the foundational habits that will give you long-term results instead of focusing on the end goal.
Speaking of end goals, should we even set long term goals for our health and fitness? If you set a goal to get bigger, do you stop lifting once you feel you’ve hit that goal? As an athlete, all of my training was done solely for increasing my sport performance. Now as a non-athlete, I have made the transition to viewing my life as my sport and lifting is geared towards improving my life performance. Although there are some obvious factors out of my control, I do not plan on not living my life any time soon. Keeping this in mind, I do not set long term (5-10 year) goals in regards to my health. My goals are all short term and are always fluctuating and changing. The question that needs to be asked before setting any types of health goals is “What do I need now?” Did you catch yourself getting winded walking up the stairs? Struggle to open the mayonnaise jar? In a future article, I’ll go over how to design or find a program that is right for you. In the meantime, the most important thing you can do is to truly figure out what YOU need. Don’t look to other people to set your goals. Rely on other people to give you input in areas you lack the knowledge but do not allow others to set your goals for you.