What do you want: The Importance of setting goals
Before we talk about diet and exercise plans there're two important questions that need to be asked. What do you want? And, why do you want it?
Goal setting is sometimes overused and has become a cliche. Why? Because we're not setting goals that keep us on track.
Why are athletes--professional and amateur--typically so in shape, good looking and healthy? One main reason is because they've set themselves clear and defined goals. Reaching those goals then becomes part of their life.
Exercise physiologist and stress expert, Jenny Evans, says that "you don't have a work life or a home life. You have a life." When we set our health and fitness goals they must become part of our "life."
Randy Smith--a firefighter from Palm Bay--says that he performs his best when he's in competition. So he and several shiftmates hold short three month competitions. The one they're currently in the middle of?
In a 90 day span each competitor must attend 30 yoga classes, do 30 hours of walking (minimum one hour at a time), and complete 30 30 minute weight lifting sessions.
Smith also sets himself personal challenges. For instance, next summer he wants to hike 100 miles of the Appalachian Trail. He's already started training.
Your goal doesn't have to be hiking 100 miles of the Appalachian Trail. Maybe you've thought about running in a charity's 5k fundraiser. Stop thinking about it and commit to do it. But how can you commit? It takes time to train and you have work, family obligations and school. These are all part of your "life," so make your goal and training part of your life as well. For example, Ann Marie Coon squeezes in her half marathon training by running with her daughter's cross country team.
But what if something comes up and you get side tracked? What if you get so busy and more important stuff comes up?
"You never change your goals," says Ferngren "you change the plan."
Ferngren is just one of many people that recommends one simple way to keep us on track with our goals. Write your goals down. Then review them regularly. "Four percent of people write down their goals," Ferngren points out and "one percent reviews their goals regularly."
In "The Total Money Makeover," Dave Ramsey referenced a study on goals done by Harvard. The study showed that about three percent of people wrote down their goals. And that three percent of people?, made more money than the other 97 percent combined.
So what do you want? Some typical answers in the health and fitness industry are:
I want to lose weight.
I want to be healthier.
I want to feel better.
These responses just don't cut it and keep people coming back. Ask an athlete, or other successful people, what they want. Their goals will be much clearer and have greater purpose. For most people goals must be tangible. Very few people are happy with exercising and staying healthy just for the fun/heck of it. Most of us want something out of it. So let's set some tangible goals.
First grab your pen (no pencils) and a sheet of paper. Then Look around you. What motivates you? Are you competitive and like to compare yourself to other people. Then maybe get a few of your friends or co-workers together and set a competition goal like Randy Smith and his shiftmates do. Do you want to run a half marathon, marathon, or ride in a charity bike ride? Do you want to climb a mountain, or hike a portion of the Appalachian Trail? Or, maybe you just want to drop a couple clothing sizes or lower your cholesterol.
Whatever your goal is, write it down in big block letters on your paper. Then set an action plan. How will you reach your goal? Write that down as well--below your goal. Take your piece of paper. Walk over to the refrigerator and display your goals front and center so that every time you walk past the fridge you see them. If you don't pay attention to your fridge all that often, take a picture of your goal paper. Make the picture the background and/or wall-paper on your cell phone. Set your email, calendar or text messaging up so you receive a daily reminder of your goal.
Make sure you review your goals every day. You're going to get busy. Things are going to come up. And when they do you might need to adjust your plan a little. But don't change your goal. Set a date that you want to achieve your goal by and do what you have to do--while being safe and legal.
And when you've reached your goal, don't stop. Set new goals. It becomes contageous. "Goals seem like false summits. You reach the top of one just to discover one a little higher," says world-class blind athlete Erik Weihenmayer.
"Without goals there is no measurement," says Ferngren. Goals help to keep us on track. They give us purpose and a reason to push through when the going gets tougher. "There's no crime in not reaching your goal," says former olympic wrestler Ken Chertow, "but only in failing to set one.”