Are you the sort of person that walks into the gym, moves around the gym floor a little bit aimlessly, tries one machine for a few minutes, gives another one a go, and then heads home? Or are you the sort of person that has a mission, knows exactly which pieces of equipment they want, attacks the workout and achieves exactly what they set out to?
The difference might be as simple of the presence or lack of goal setting principles. People are always telling you to set goals but what does it actually mean?
Goal setting is not just saying I want to get fitter, or I want more wealth, or a better career. It is forming objectives in a chosen area and then determining the steps to get there.
A good principle to help navigate through your goal setting experience is the SMART principle. That is, make your goals Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound.
Specific. Your goal should be clear and easy to understand. Saying “I want to be healthier”, isn’t very specific. I want to lose weight, is a bit more specific. or, I want more muscle mass. These are specific type of health and fitness objectives that you can focus on to achieve.
Measurable. A goal to “lose weight” is not enough. You need to make this part of the goal, a measurable one. I want to lose 15kg, is a specific and measurable goal. So is saying, I want to add 20 kgs to my bench press
Attainable. In adding a measurable component to your goal, it has to be realistic. If your bench press is 60kg for example, setting a goal of having a bench press that is 200kg will feel like it’s unachievable. What this does is makes you lose interest in your goal, because you’ll feel like you’ll never get there. Similarly if you are very overweight, say, 110kg, and you decide you want to weight 50kg, you should set a more achievable goal first. Maybe the first goal is to lose 20kg. You can always set a new goal once you’ve achieved your last one.
Relevant. The goal needs to speak to you directly. There’s no point making a goal to learn the trumpet, or to break powerlifting world-records. Find what draws you in the life and in the gym and make those your goals. Maybe you want to learn Muay Thai. Maybe you just want to be able to run on the treadmill for 30 mins. Make it relate to something that you connect with.
Time-bound. Put a deadline on your goal. If you don’t have a deadline, then you have forever to achieve your goal and you’ll never get there. If you have a specific goal, that is measurable, attainable and relevant, then give yourself time, but have a date locked in. It makes you accountable, it helps you to track your results so you know how you’re progressing once you start working towards your goal, and it keeps you mentally focused on the end result.
Consider these elements and set some really solid and achievable goals before you next walk into the gym, and then knock them out of the park!