Whether you have a clear vision of your ideal self, or not, you need to set goals that your program is designed to help you achieve. By taking the time to determine what your ideal self is, there will be a more clearly defined understanding, or the why, behind your goals and your program. Instead of simply stating, “I want to lose 20 pounds”, there is a more clear realization that for you to truly realize your ideal self, and all that it represents, you must lose 20 pounds. Your ideal self, in order to perform the tasks that it must do has an ideal body design. The body of your ideal self must be able to perform a certain way. You can almost step outside your body and view it as a machine that was designed to help you perform the tasks of your ideal self. A race car is designed with a very specific purpose. You should try to have this same level of purpose when it comes to designing your body, what it is capable of performing, and the plan that will help you accomplish those things. If you have not taken the time to understand what your ideal self represents, or don’t have a clear picture of it, your goals may not be as clear or purposeful. However, that doesn’t make the goal setting process any less important.
Part of the process of goal setting should involve writing your goals down somewhere. This can be on a piece of paper or on your phone, computer, or other device. Writing it down will allow you to continually refer back to your goals. Reread them and think about your goals often, at least daily. By constantly reviewing and rereading your goals, they will stay fresh in your mind, so when you are faced with a choice during your day, you will hopefully make the one that is most congruent with your goals. Also, if you find your focus and motivation waning, you can quickly read your goals to help you regain your motivation and focus.
Setting S.M.A.R.T. Goals
The goals that you establish should follow the acronym S.M.A.R.T. Your goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-oriented. By ensuring your goals adhere to this acronym, whether short-term or long-term goals, like that of your ideal self, you will give yourself the best chance of designing an effective plan and increase the likelihood of accomplishing your goals.
A specific goal clearly describes what you are trying to achieve. I want to get in better shape doesn’t really describe anything. What does getting in better shape mean? However, stating that you want to complete a marathon is a much more specific goal. Whatever your goals are, take the time to visualize and describe that goal in as great of detail as possible.
Your goals must also be measurable. I want to lose weight is open-ended. However, I want to lose 20 pounds is something that you can measure your progress towards. On a regular basis, you can step on the scale, determine your progress towards your goal, and then determine the effectiveness of your plan. Every goal should have some measurable component to it, that you can track to ensure that you are making progress towards your goal.
The next step, ensuring your goal is attainable is fairly subjective. Almost anything is attainable with the right plan and consistent, hard work. Goals that would fall outside the scope of attainability would be winning the 100 meter dash at the Olympics, when you are 50 years old. The odds of that happening make it nearly impossible. However, setting a goal to compete at the Senior Olympics, or some other running related event, would be much more attainable for someone in their 50’s. The average person usually under-estimates what they can accomplish when setting goals, and doesn’t fully appreciate what they are able to achieve. While it is important to make sure a goal is attainable, you should still set ambitious goals that will push your limits of what you perceive as possible.
Determining whether a goal is realistic is similarly subjective to the attainability of a goal. Your personality, lifestyle, and other personal variables determine the realistic nature of a goal more than anything else. Assuming the goal you set is actually attainable, your willingness to devote the time and effort will decide whether a goal is realistic for you, or not. Running a marathon in under three hours is an attainable goal for almost anyone. However, most people aren’t willing to do what is necessary to achieve such a goal. Setting extremely ambitious goals is a good thing, as long as you are honest with yourself, and you truly understand what will be required to achieve such goals. Expecting to run a marathon in under three hours by training twice a week and averaging three miles each day, will hardly be enough to accomplish your goal.
Ensuring a goal is time-oriented is one of the most important steps in the goal setting process. Stating that you want to lost 20 pounds of body fat, meets all of the prior requirements of a SMART goal. However, you have yet to determine when you want to achieve your goal. Stating you want to lose 20 pounds of body fat in three months is much different than losing the same amount in one year. Both goals are realistic and attainable, but the amount of focus, effort, and the precision of your plan need to be much better with the three month goal.
- Spend at least 10 minutes to think about and write down your goals
- Reread your goals at least once a day. Better still, read them once, first thing in the morning when you wake up. Read them again, right before you go to bed.
- Once a month, review your goals and determine whether adjustments need to be made.