Welcome back to the blog for 2015! I hope everybody had a good break and had fun with family and friends. I certainly had many different things on and had an awesome time. After the hangovers pass, a new year makes us feel fresh and ready to tackle the year ahead; a clean slate to start anew. Let’s use the new year’s motivation to set solid goals and work towards owning them, making 2015 our best year yet!
Do New Years Resolutions work? Why you should set goals
We have all seen the people in the gym year after year lifting the same weights and not losing weight or improving their fitness. Maybe you’ve noticed the same for yourself, I was in a similar position when I started weight training at 16 years old.
Without goals, it’s easy to get nowhere with fitness and health and despite the naysayers, research shows that setting specific goals – even at the start of the year! – set us up for greater success, whatever that looks like for each individual.
Goals help us to think consciously about what we want to achieve and what is important to us. The human brain has evolved in a different world than the modern day. Thinking ahead is difficult to do without constant guidance and motivation.
Goals make us look to ourselves in the future and visualise how we want our lives to be. They provide us a way of achieving the things we know improve our lives but may not happen without proper planning. Goals give us something to work towards.
Not just fitness goals: Use these tactics for other areas of your life
Although this is a fitness and health oriented blog, these goal-setting tips work for any type of goal whether it be Career, Financial, Health & Fitness, Attitude, or Education.. I will mostly use fitness references but subtitute any type of goal in a similar way as below.
How to set SMART goals
When setting goals, the first step is to brainstorm and think of the most important things in your life. We will all have different things that we value and that we want to achieve. Write down what is most important to you (but don’t stop there). Do you want to get stronger, save money, achieve a promotion, run a 10KM race? The list goes on!
We need to develop these generalised statements and ideas into actual written goals. To do this, we must follow the commonly referenced SMART goals outline. This acronym stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely. To make real goals, let’s have a look at what this means and how to make real goals.
Specific means that the goal is localised and clear. While saying ‘I want to get fit’ is an awesome idea, it gives you no specific concept of what you want to achieve. ‘I want to lose 20kg’ or ‘I want to run a 10km race’ leaves you with no question about what you’re setting out to do.
If we do not measure things it is impossible to track them and know whether we have achieved our goals. Every goal we make has to be put into terms that are measurable. The above example of ‘I want to lose 20kg’ works because weight is something we can measure.
A goal that you set must be something you are able to do! It is a balance between difficulty and reality. Goals should be challenging so that we are driven to work hard, but not over the top. Trying to go from a 100kg deadlift to 200kg in a month sounds nice, for example, but it is not achievable for most of us!
This is similar to achievable. Is it realistic to achieve this goal you have written? What will get in the way of making it happen? Remember that life is full of the unexpected, so ensure that your goals are realistic.
The last point is that goals must be timed. The above example of ‘I want to lose 20kg’ gives us no indication of when we’ll reach this. Always ensure that your goals have a timeframe. “I want to lose 20kg by the end of 2015’ gives you a specific time-frame to complete your goal.
Another thing to remember with goal setting is to keep the goals positive and confident. This would change the “I want to lose 20kg’ goal into “I will lose 20kg by the end of 2015”
Don’t just write a goal because it looks good on paper, write it if you genuinely want to achieve it. Be honest with the goals you set as they will be much more likely to be achieved and more rewarding. A lot of this ties in with the achievable and realistic steps.
Examples of goals
Here are some examples of what goals may look like:
Start from long term then move to shorter
When making goals thinking of the long term first gives you an idea of where you want to be in a years time. From there you can break it down further. Personally I think having goals of about one month at a time is the most useful, any shorter and it can be difficult to see much progress. If you want to make shorter goals than a month, follow the same pattern as below.
Let’s say you are squatting 100kg and want to get to 160kg by the end of 2015 - a 60kg increase. To achieve this you will need to aim for 130kg by 6 months, 115kg by 3 months and 105kg by the end of the first month. Each month you will be aiming to do 5kg more than the last month.
Start with the year then break down your goals into what you need to get started for the first month. Once the first month is done you can then review and progress toward the overall yearly goal.
Evaluate and Review
Towards the end of the first month, evaluate your progress.. This needs to be done objectively. Often life gets in the way and goals may not be achieved. Use the evaluation and review to look honestly at where you are and how you can progress from that point. Don’t dwell if you haven’t ticked off every goal you’d set out to.. The review means you can start afresh and work towards more positive and realistic changes!
To evaluate your first month, ask yourself the following questions:
Answering these questions will help you to make better goals next time. Use the knowledge you have to make the next month’s goals even better! Continue this method of review every month and make the next months goals based upon your review.
It alone feels great to achieve goals but it’s important to reward ourselves to reinforce the good behaviour and continue achieving what we have set out to. Having said that, rewards must be in the right context. If you are losing weight, rewarding yourself with an unlimited buffet dinner for losing 1kg might set you back !.
Make sure to reward yourself with things that mean something to you!
Make goals visible
I print out a piece of paper which is on my wall in front of my work desk with all my 2015 goals: fitness, personal and business related. I put them there so that every day I am reminded of what I want to achieve for the next year and work towards doing so. One of my goals for 2015 is to read 2 books every week. To ensure I do this, I have listed 2 books for each week for the first 3 months of the year with a column to tick once I have finished. This list is stuck onto the wall in front of me so I can mark off the books as I read them.
Once you have worked out your monthly goals as mentioned above, think about writing them on either a whiteboard or printed on paper to place you’ll see it every day so that you are always reminded of them and motivated to own this year!
You could do this with a vision board like a photo collage or create one via Pinterest.
It is fantastic to have goals but if you are only accountable to yourself it’s easier to fail. Consider sharing your goals with your partner, friend or colleague. Spend an hour together going over each other’s aims and making sure they fit the criteria above. Give each other suggestions as to what could be changed. Each month or every few months get together again to review your goals. This works best when you have some shared interests, whether you are gym partners, work partners or life partners. The added accountability only does good.
With social media so common now it can even be a good idea to post up your goals onto Facebook. Often the more people we tell, the more obliged we feel to complete our goals. If you plan to quit smoking and tell all your friends and family, they’re likely to remind you of what you said if you pull out a smoke in front of them!
As mentioned throughout this article, measuring and tracking are essential for goal setting. Without tracking we do not know where we are at or how we’re going! This means that the goals you are measuring need to be tracked so you can ensure that you are achieving them.
Microsoft Excel or other spreadsheets are great ways to track workouts and other goals. A simple workout record can include headings for the date, exercise, sets, reps, weight, and any daily notes (just ask me for an example if you need it!). Recording your workouts in this manner means that it is simple to look at how far you have come.
Forget the naysayers. Get out your pens, pencils and vision boards and set realistic goals to make 2015 your year. The examples I’ve shared are my own examples and your goals will be specific to you!
Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below or message me personally via firstname.lastname@example.org to talk about what you want to achieve in 2015.
I am still taking clients for 2015 for both online training and in-person training! Let me know what your health and fitness goals are and I will help you achieve them!
Make this your year. Be sure to check back on the blog for Freeman’s Fitness’s biggest year yet.
What are your new years resolutions? Tell us below.
Happy New Year everyone! I’m looking forward to hearing more about your plans.