By Kristi Giles
Setting goals may seem a little daunting these days. Maybe it’s because we aren’t getting the results we want immediately or maybe the risk of disappointment is far too great. Nonetheless, if goal setting is done right, we can guarantee success. Goal setting is a process with a lot more steps required than just simply writing down your goal.
I’m going to share five of my favourite tips to help guide you in the right direction and lead you to the success you desire.
Tip #1: Find the purpose
The first thing we must do while setting a new goal is to ask the question “why?”. Quite often, we don’t really know the true, deep desire to our goal. We can discover interesting truths when we dig down and find the root of our desire to set that goal. It is often not exactly what we think it is at face value.
An exercise I encourage people to do to help with this is, act like an inquisitive 2-year-old and ask the question “why?”. You know how a 2-year-old never accepts the first answer as the final answer? Well, do that too. When you answer the question “why?” and provide an answer, continue to ask “why?” until you are at the most basic reason for why you would like to achieve this goal.
Here’s an example: Through many years of illness, I dreamed of returning to endurance competitions like Ironman triathlons. I was told I would likely never run again, but I refused to accept that and to give up on my goal. When I was grappling with whether to set that goal or let it go, I started to ask the question “why?”. I asked it over and over again, until I realized that at the root of it, I just truly loved the freedom and strength that I felt with running and training.
I once thought that competing was the only thing that would make me run daily. In truth, I just loved the feeling of running. So then I realized, my goal should be to run daily, or as much as possible, so that I could feel that wonderful feeling. That was what my heart wanted more than anything, even more than the thrill of competition. I could always build on that goal, but initially, it should be to do what I truly loved the most, running as much as possible.
Tip #2: Create milestones
Many people recognize that achieving a goal is a process, and to realize it will take time and many steps to get there. However, the piece that is often missing here is setting up the steps. First, make the steps as small as possible so they are achievable. Second, highlight milestones – little goals that can be celebrated. This allows you to see their progress and revel in it. One of the greatest motivators to achieving a goal is to recognize the progress you are making along the way.
Going back to my running example: I started simply, with running 500 metres. One might think I would move to 1 km from there, but even smaller than that, was being able to run 500 metres every time I went out. Sometimes I was not able to run 500 metres day after day. Therefore, I would not think about the 1km until I was able to run the 500 metres without fail consistently. You can see where I would have set myself up for failure had I jumped to 1km right away. More importantly, I celebrated each 500-metre run as a new goal accomplished. Each time I did it, I was one step closer to moving to the next phase.
Tip #3: Two-minute back–up plan
This tip is one of the most powerful tools we can use in goal setting. It supports the idea that if you are really going to commit to a certain goal, you must do something daily to work towards that goal. We all know how busy and complicated life is, so the best way to accomplish our goal is to set, what I call, a two-minute back-up plan. It’s a two-minute exercise, practice or process you can do on the days that you just don’t have time to do what is normally necessary to achieve your goal.
In my case, I developed a two-minute workout routine that built running muscle that I could do in the space of a bathroom, if necessary. You want something you can do in less than two minutes, anywhere, without equipment or facilities. It could also be reading on the subject, google searching or simply sitting quietly and daydreaming about what it will feel like when you achieve your goal. The trick here is to develop your two-minute back-up plan, write it down, include all the steps and utilize it whenever life gets in the way.
Tip #4: Acknowledge a bumpy path
You must remember in the process of achieving a goal, there is no such thing as perfection or a straight line to success. Life is full of hills and valleys, and that’s exactly how it should look like when you are trying to achieve something new. Your body is trying to adjust to something new and that will create stress in your system.
You will have high points of energy, focus and accomplishments followed by low points of recovery, rest and realignment. That is a good sign, because it means your body is trying to adjust to the new version of you. Accept these different periods as part of the process and know that missteps, lack of motivation and low periods are often necessary to propel you during your next phase.
Tip #5: You are your best coach
I wish I understood the importance of this tip many decades ago. This tip will make it easier and increase your chances of success and joy in the process. Think of yourself as your best coach and your greatest motivator.
To do this successfully, I often suggest you think of yourself as your child, best friend or favourite person. Ask yourself what you would say if your child was going through a difficult time; what would you say if you are trying to motivate your best friend; and what would you say if you are encouraging your favourite person to move forward in any way? We often remind them that it’s okay when things do not go well, and we encourage them to keep trying in a very positive way. We congratulate them on every small accomplishment, and we are proud with all the effort they are making. Make sure that is exactly what you are doing for yourself. Positive reinforcement is the most effective way to success.
Now I want to hear from you, what are a few of your goals and how you plan to accomplish them this year?
Kristy Giles, is a Life, Health & Fitness Coach with Nurtured Life. She has a BSc in Biology and a MSc in Environmental Health. She has been a Health and Fitness Coach for over a decade, specializing in outdoor programs, free running, triathlons, high intensity intervals and free weights. Due to a recent battle with Chronic Lyme disease she become very passionate about helping people find true happiness, fulfilment and wellbeing of body, mind and soul. As a result of that life experience she also became a certified Life Coach, because she believes the key to finding lasting health and fitness requires looking at the individual, their lifestyle and what brings them joy…and that is where one will find a wellness regime that will always succeed.