In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve plagiarized myself. I’m writing a book, and I’ve taken this post directly from a chapter in my new book, I’ve modified it a little to live “on it’s own” but essentially this is a segment of my book. So if you like it, maybe you’ll like the book itself.
Goals are not dreams. Goals are not wishes. Goals are not hopes. Goals are specific, reachable reference points that help you to focus instead of just moving along without a direction. Having a goal helps you plan and keeps you interested in the subject at hand. If you have no goal and just begin exercising and eating better, then the odds are eventually you will fall back to your old patterns. Most people function better with a goal. Below, I will try to detail the process of creating effective goals for your health and wellness. Goals are one way to track progress, there are other ways but this one is an effective and relatively simple method, what ever the case, knowing how to formulate and track a goal is an important step towards becoming healthy and fit!
in my opinion a well thought out goal should have 4 aspects. The first aspect of a goal should be distinct measure-ability. this means, any goal should be provable by observed and recordable results. A good example would be a weight goal, or a body fat % goal, or a running time goal. All of these are discretely measurable datum points. the second aspect of a goal should be concrete definition. This means that a plan of action can be laid out to reach that goal. If the goal is to drop 25 lbs, then there should be a plan that acts as your basic roadmap to achieve that goal because lets face it, just saying “I want to lose 25 lbs” sounds more like a wish; but saying “I want to lose 25 lbs and I will eat a healthy balanced diet with a 500 calorie deficit every day and do moderate cardiovascular exercise 3 days a week for 30 minutes and weight train for 2 days a week for 45 minutes” sounds like a real well thought out goal. The third aspect of a goal should be an endpoint. An end point allows focus, an endpoint tells whether the correct amount of progress is being made. Whether the goal is reached in a timeline is irrelevant, that the work being done towards that goal is what matters. Make no mistake, with the first few goals made, some may actually fall short, that’s ok, it’s trial and error. The odds are when you have a specific end point, whether the goal is reached or not, it’s most likely that work will be done all the way up through that endpoint, and THAT is the important aspect of a goal, coaxing you to work from beginning to end. The 4th and final aspect of a goal is longevity. Goals should have some distance to them from your starting point. Setting a goal every week is probably a bit of overkill. Better to make the goal some time in a few months or even a year distant. If markers are needed to make the goal seem more real, see the next section on waypoints.
Waypoints are ways to break a goal up into smaller, more manageable parts. Some like to call these mini-goals, but I think waypoints just sounds better. What ever you name them, waypoinst don’t need to include all the aspects of a goal, but it should include 2, the time/date the waypoint is to be measured, and the goal datum to set the waypoint to. For example, take the goal stated above of losing 25 lbs, add an end date to that goal of 6 months, now add waypoints such as, “after the first month I would like to see a 6 pound loss, after the 3rd month I would like to see a total loss of 15 lbs and after the 5th month I would like to see a loss of 22 lbs”. Besides giving a point to reach for that is in a relatively short period of time, this method also allows you to re-focus at certain intervals. If after 1 month you feel that you haven’t made sufficient progress, edit your routine, or even change your ultimate goal to reflect this correction. One small point you may want to heed is to not put too many waypoints into your goal. When goals are saturated with too many measurements, we cannot “see the forest for the trees” or in other words, the little waypoints become so all-encompassing, we lose the original intent of the goal, being conscious of your current situation is important, but being focused on your goal is also key. Find a balance between these two extremes and you will be well on your way to success.