THE UNREALISTIC GOAL
The unrealistic goal often comes with a deadline and is usually a short term goal. "I want to lose 20lbs. in a month because I am going to the Bahamas and I want to look great in my bikini(or speedo)!"
Procrastination is often the cause of this type of goal setting. I'm sure they didn't book that vacation yesterday. They probably told themselves at the time of the booking that they want to lose 20lbs., never did anything about it and NOW they want to lose 20lbs. in a month!
Misinformation is another reason for such aggressive goal setting. The media, especially TV shows like The Biggest Loser, can have people believe that they can drop this much weight in such a short time.
Another thing that makes a goal unrealistic is the person's past behavior. If you have never been able to make healthy food choices, consume sensible portions and exercise regularly, what makes you think that you are going to "flip the switch" and change all of these behaviors at once?
My most successful clients have changed one thing at a time. It is usually easier to address portion size without changing your choices. Once you can do that, then you can look to improve the choices you are making. If you haven't exercised at all or are just making cameo appearances at the gym, start by gradually increasing your frequency, until you are exercising at least 4 days per week.
THE VAGUE GOAL
The vague goal is one that is not clear at all.
"I want to lose weight, but I don't know how much." The client with vague goals knows that there is hard work involved, maybe they tried and failed before and therefore don't want to commit to a specific numerical goal, such as losing "x" amount of body fat or dropping to a certain dress size.
Setting a specific goal, they feel, can be a setup for failure.
However, I have found the opposite to be true. A client who shoots at a set target is far more likely to achieve their goal than someone who is undecided on what they really want to accomplish.
THE SPECIFIC GOAL
The specific goal is the opposite of the vague goal. "I want to lose 3 inches in my waist," or "I want to lower my 5K time by 1 minute," are examples of specific goals. A specific goal is easy to measure.
"I want to feel better", may be specific but it is not really measurable. The specific/measurable goal, if realistic, is usually the best way to start your journey.
THE LONG TERM GOAL
The long term goal is one where there is no sense of urgency and the expectations are reasonable.
"I want to be 2 sizes smaller by this time next year." This goal is not vague and it is not unrealistic.
It is absolutely achievable and easily measured.
The only negative I see in this type of goal setting is, because the target is so far away, sometimes procrastination takes over. "I will start tomorrow," sometimes turns into, "I will start next week," and then "I will start next month." Enter the short term goal........
THE SHORT TERM GOAL
The short term goal is usually set between one week or several months. Achieving a series of short term goals can lead to the accomplishment of a long term goal much more effectively and make the long term goal not seem so far away or insurmountable.
Asking yourself WHY each goal is important to you will help you to clarify the goal and motivate you to achieve it. "I want to drop 2 sizes in the next 2 months" is made stronger by: "because I want heads to turn at my high school reunion." Or, "I want to loses 5 inches on my waist and drop 30 lbs." is more effective with: "because I want to get off of my blood pressure medication and lower my risk of heart disease." Every time you feel yourself going off course, remind yourself of the WHY to keep you on track.
- Decide what it is you WANT to accomplish. Is your goal realistic, specific and measurable?
- Figure out WHY it is important to you. How will you feel if you achieve it? How will you feel if you DO NOT achieve it?
- Get educated on HOW to achieve your goal and make a plan
- Keep records and monitor your progress
- Reach out and get help. You will find it easier with guidance and a great support system.
- LIVE YOUR DREAMS!