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Set yourself realistic, worthwhile fitness goals

Jon Orum, one of our long standing fitness trainers, explains the necessary ingredients for successfully achieving your fitness goals. 

Having a clear vision of what you wish to achieve with your health is always a good idea. This vision could be related to a weight loss goal, an increase in fitness or better sports performance, or how often you can make it to the gym on a weekly basis.

Effective goal setting is concerned with achieving successful outcomes by planning and defining realistic and specific targets from the get go. 

Many New Year resolutions do not work out for exactly the reasons given above. They tend to be vague, pie in the sky affairs, which may initially inspire us and give us something to aim for, but are rarely achievable and are often discarded by the end of January. 

Goal setting appears to work by focusing our attention, providing a direction for our motivation and persistence and then when we are successful, in increasing our self efficacy and confidence. 

Research has consistently shown that structured goal setting results in enhanced performance in exercise / sports and, for that matter, in the business world.

Short term or day to day goals: these micro-goals provide a focus for each training session and are the most important goals. You need to decide how to use these sessions to progress and move towards your intermediate goals.

Intermediate or meso-goals: are markers of where you want to be at a set time. An example: that of running 10 km in sub 55 minutes by the end of May.

Dream goals or macro-goals: are those goals that seem a long way away, often several years, such as scoring the winning goal in the world cup final.

Conceptually then, goal setting makes sense. Most of us understand the rationale behind the technique. The key to its effectiveness is in the planning and execution as this is where most goal setting scenarios fall down. Below are four key pointers to understanding how to make goal setting useful and relevant to your own needs.

1. Develop a vision of what you want, how to get it, plan it out.

2. Commit yourself; make the goal worth striving for.

3. You have to believe the goals you’ve set yourself are achievable, not too easy and not too difficult.

4. Focus on one small step at a time. This approach will develop your confidence, as your confidence increases you can then step up the goal challenge(s).

When planning your goals, think carefully about the things in your life that may hinder your progress. These could be time constraints, access to nutritious foods, gym or park access, children etc you will have to develop strategies that take this into account. This is where you often need to think “outside the box” to allow you to succeed.

To help you remember the key principles of goal setting you need to think SMARTER

Specific – what needs to be done, no vagueness allowed
Measurable – you can quantify your goal(s)
Accepted – you need to accept that your goals are realistic, do-able and worthwhile
Recorded – write down your goals, and make a contract with yourself
Timed – set time limits and stick to them
Evaluated – constantly monitor your progress
Reversible – if injured or unable to achieve over ambitious goals, you can reset 

Now, get going!