Whether you’re a regular goal setter or you think goal setting is cheesy and would rather go-with-the-flow, the fact of the matter is, goal setting is essential. It is simply choosing the end destination and then mapping out how you are going to get there. Imagine going to Central Station and getting on the first train you see. You might end up somewhere nice, you might end up in the ghetto, but chances are you’ll end up a long way from where you really want to be. It’s the same with goal setting: if you don’t carefully choose the destination and clearly define the steps required to get there, then it’s unlikely you’ll ever make it.
The purpose of goal setting is to give you a step-by step plan to achieve a target. You’ve probably heard of SMARTY goals before, and whether you love or hate acronyms, SMARTY goals are really effective. Ensure each goal is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, within a Time-frame, and that you have a big enough why? (Y). Here is an example of a SMARTY goal for someone recovering from an injury:
In 6 weeks, I can swim 10 laps in the pool, at a comfortable pace, without an increase in my symptoms. This will allow me to play with my kids.
You will also notice that the goal is worded as a statement, as if it’s already been achieved. This is an important element of neuroplasticity and helps to wire your brain in a way that makes the goal more achievable, especially if you say it out loud to yourself daily. You should also break the goal down into steps and set daily or weekly targets that lead towards you achieving the goal.
Now is your opportunity to set your big overarching goal for your body and life. This goal will be your guiding light over the coming weeks and months in regards to your health. It will give you strength in times of challenges.
The goal must be detailed. It must include your true motivation for why you’ve set it. Most importantly, you must be able to believe you can achieve it (if you can’t, make a smaller goal that you can believe in). Your belief in your ability to succeed in your goal is the number one determinant in whether or not you will achieve it. Again: if you can’t believe in it, choose something smaller for now (once you reach the smaller target, the bigger one won’t seem so unrealistic).
Your overarching goal should not be: “In 12-weeks I want to be pain-free”. This does not describe what you want, but what you’re trying to escape. It does not disclose why you want to achieve this. It is written in a way that is hopeful, but not confident.
Let’s look at an example of the kind of goal you are going to set (sticking with the injury recovery theme – but you can apply the same format to any goal, not just injury recovery!):
In 12-weeks, I am able to work as a receptionist, for 8 hours per day, whilst feeling comfortable in my body. I am able to sleep through the night without waking. I am able to carry my 3-year-old son for 30-mins and feel strong whilst doing so. I can exercise in the gym for 1-hour each day, feeling great in my body. Achieving this has helped me achieve my true underlying motivation of being a good mother, providing for my family and being an energised and happy partner.
There are some important characteristics of the above goal that I want you to include in your own:
- It is written as if it’s already achieved
- It describes the true underlying reason for setting the goal (ask yourself “why?” 5 times to find this)
- It is Specific and Measurable (1-hour gym, 30-mins carrying son), Achievable and Realistic (I believe I can get there), Time-bound (12-weeks) and includes a why? (to be a good mother/provider/partner).
Now it’s your turn. Set yourself the big goal. What are you looking to achieve in your life that your health is currently preventing you from achieving? Write it down (research tells us that simply writing your goal down makes you 42% more likely to achieve it).
My Big Goal:
Now, I want you to share this goal with 3 people you trust. Three people that won’t put you down, but will support and energise you towards achieving it.
Now you are committed.