Effective Goal Setting…Goal setting tips and tricks

Posted on 04. Jan, 2011 by in Blog, Motivation


This is the time of year that people tend to come out of the woodwork and set goals for the upcoming year. Just in the past week, I have read plenty of blog posts, Facebook statuses and other ramblings about 2011 goals, missions, and plans for the upcoming year. This is the year that it will be different…right?

Although most people have good intentions, it is well known that the majority of goals are just never met. For whatever reasons, many people just can’t seem to figure out how to accomplish their goals. I have been guilty of this myself. Let’s face it; good intentions only go so far. It takes a lot of discipline, planning, and commitment to reach your goals.

I have found that many people just don’t know how to set goals, or even if they do, they are missing key and very important components to setting and better yet, accomplishing them. Goal setting and goal accomplishment doesn’t have to be hard. In fact, it can be simplified with a few important steps that will help ensure success.

Goal setting MUSTS:

1.    Write them down. This sounds simple and some of you might be saying, “not sh*t, who doesn’t write them down!!??” You would be surprised. For those of you that do write them down, you are actually ahead of the curve, believe it or not. And if you do, good for you. Writing your goals down does a very simple, yet effective thing: it makes them real. As I said, you might be surprised about how many people do not write them down. Instead, many people set goals in their head only. If they are not writing down, in some form or another, your chances of being successful will be very low.

2.    Tell People. Whether you tell your friends, co-workers, or post on Facebook, letting others know will help keep you accountable. Think about it for a minute…if you told 10 of your friends and co-workers those people will help keep you accountable. When you mess up, they will let you know. When you go off of your diet, someone will hopefully call you out on it and keep you on track. Telling people won’t guarantee success, but by telling the right people, it can be very powerful in helping you stay on track. Find some people that you know and share your goals with them. Ask them to call you out if you start to fall off. This will go a lot further then you might think.

3.    Write them like they already happened. This is a trick that I have used with my athletes throughout the years and it works very well. Instead of writing things down like, “I will lose 10 pounds” or “I will make it to the gym 3 days a week”, do yourself a favor and write down your goals like you have already accomplished them…in the present tense. For example, if one of your goals is get back to your high school waist size, instead of writing something like “I will have a 32 inch waist” write it like this, “I have a 32 inch waist.” It is that simple. Stating things in the present tense, like they have already happened, keeps you motivated and helps your brain think they are real and possible.

4.    Be VERY specific. Another mistake that people make is setting what are called “general goals” instead of very specific goals. Setting a general goal like, “I will get in great shape this year” means nothing. Your brain cannot and does not know what that means. What does getting in great shape mean to you? Does it mean losing a very specific amount of weight? Running a very specific distance each day? Eating a very specific diet? Getting in great shape needs to mean something, and once you figure out what it means, use that as your goal. It needs to be specific and more so, measurable. If you can’t measure it, it is not specific enough. Use that as your guide.

5.    Be realistic (but still dream). This tip is sometimes controversial. Some people will say, “never be realistic…set huge goals and have huge dreams!” I agree. My point is you have to still be realistic. If your goal is to lose 100 pounds, your goal should not be “Lose 50 pound by the end of the week.” Make sure you aim very high and set very lofty goals, but at the same time, keep them somewhat realistic. This keeps you motivated, and ensures more success.

6.    Set Process goals, along with outcome goals. An example of a process goal is the following: “I am going to the gym 3 days a week, and training for 30 minutes each day” An outcome goal is “I am going to lose 30 pounds.” Process goals help you reach your outcome. It is important to have both. Process goals are usually in your control. Outcome goals sometimes may not be. But by setting both, you have a better chance of achieving what you set out to achieve.

Goal Setting on Steroids

If you want to really pack a good punch while setting your goals and ensure you will realize them, try these tips.

1. Results First- Always start your goal setting by stating your outcome or result. KNOW exactly what you are after from the very beginning. Let’s say your goal is to squat 400 pounds this year. Keeping with the rules above, and example would be: “I squat 400 pounds” That is the end result…the outcome. I personally like the word “outcome” better than “goal.” To me it has a more powerful meaning.

2. Have a Purpose- This is something that most people never think about…the “WHY.” What is the reason or what are the reasons you are after that outcome or goal? If you have a good enough “Why” or purpose, then you will have a much better chance of realizing the outcome. Purpose keeps you going. Purpose will get you up in the morning for that early run. Purpose will keep you from eating that extra helping. Purpose will keep you motivated when you don’t feel like doing anything. Goals without a good purpose or reason, have no real power. Figure out your purpose for each and every goal, and realize how much more power you will have over your goals and outcomes. Sometimes you might have more than one purpose for each goal…that is ok and actually better.

3. Have detailed plans-You have to take steps to realize each outcome or goal. You can do all of the above suggestions and tips, but without a detailed plan or plans, you will get nowhere. The most effective way to realize your outcome is to develop detailed steps and plans from the bottom to the top of how you are going to get there. Many people leave the planning part out of the equation. This is a mistake. Setting a goal is worthless without the map on how you will get to the finish line. You might have 20 steps in your plan, and that is OK. Whatever it takes. Have detailed plans for each outcome or goal and each with each step you take for that outcome is a victory and gets you closer to your ultimate outcome. Let’s use the weight loss goal again as an example. If your outcome is to lose 30 pounds, your plan might look something like this:

a. Weight train 4 days a week for at least 30 minutes a day.

i. Hire a trainer

ii. Join the gym

b. Do extra cardio work 3 days a week when not weight training.

i. Find a running or walking partner

ii. Walk the dog every day.

c. Follow XYZ Nutrition plan

i. Research the best and most effective weight loss nutrition plans

ii. Hire a nutritionist

Obviously this is only a small example. You can see how you could probably write down 10 more things that you might need to do with ease. Everyone is different. Plan what will work for you, but have a plan and make it as detailed as possible.

Wrapping it all up

Goal setting is a must if you really want to make new strides in your personal and/or professional life. You can’t just leave things to chance. Many people set goals every year, but few people realize them. Use the tips mentioned above and you will have a much better chance of accomplishing everything you set out to do! Good luck.

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