The reason for this picture is simple and represents what this post is all about, goals. One of the biggest goals I have in my life (besides to be successful and follow my dreams) is to run in AND finish a marathon (all 26.2 miles). It’s been a goal of mine ever since I got into nutrition and health (at the awkward age of 13) and I’ve yet to even come close to accomplishing it. With no races under my belt, this is a huge feat to take on and I know that. But as I get older and see dozens of my friends (some who have 3 kids and a full time job) tackling 26 milers on the regular, I realize I have no excuses as to why I haven’t done this or haven’t really tried to. Because I’m young, healthy and kid-less, I’m going to step it up and tackle this inspirational goal in 2 years.
The 4 Goal Questions You Need to Answer
Although it felt good to verbalize that goal, words are just words and I need a solid action plan, which is where the 4 goal questions come into play. Although to some, just stating “I want to lose weight” may be sufficient, but for the masses (and myself) there needs to be more specificity (cue the why, when, how and what if). Below are the 4 goal questions you need to answer in order to really bring your overall goal to life.
- Why are you doing this?
- When do you plan to have this accomplished?
- How do you plan on doing this?
- What if _____? How will you readjust your goal to stay on track?
All of these questions relate to the most important things to remember when you are making a goal (for fitness or for life):
- Goals need to be specific. This will answer the why question. Research has found that people who made specific goals versus generalized goals were more successful in completing their goals and staying motivated. So instead of saying a broad statement, like “I want to lose weight” be more specific, like “I want to lose 30 pounds by April 2nd for my wedding.”
- Goals need to be measurable. This will answer the when question. Simply stating you want to get thinner isn’t enough, you need to be able to document and measure your weight loss to stay motivated. For example, by establishing weekly weigh-ins, you can see first hand how well you are doing by the pounds loss. It’s also important to set a goal that can be measured in time, otherwise you may keep putting it off. For example, instead of stating “I want to run a marathon” add a time length to it for more pressure, such as “I want to run a marathon in May of 2012.”
- Goals need to be adjustable. This goes with the what if question. What if during your marathon training you twist your ankle or break your leg? These experiences are tragic but happen in life and you need to be realistic with your goal planning. If the doctor says you have to be off your leg for 3 months, competing in a triathlon in 4 months is no longer very attainable. Make sure you are able to adjust your goals when life throws you a curve ball.
- Goals need to be action-oriented. This is how you are going to complete your goal. If your goal is losing weight, your action plan should be to eat 1500 calories a day, do cardio 4 days a week and weight train for 3 days a week. By setting up an action plan, it’s easier to stay on track.
- Goals need to be realistic. This point goes well with the adjustable point. If you have never run outside, setting a goal to run a half marathon in 2 months is not realistic. Or saying you want to lose 30 pounds in a month. These goals are hard to attain because of how unrealistic they are. They aren’t impossible (some people have accomplished them) but for the average Joe they are a bit out of the ballpark. Know what you are capable of accomplishing when you are feeling 100% and set your goal based on that.
One of the unspoken keys to success, especially when it come to fitness, is setting attainable, realistic and personal goals. There’s no better feeling than knowing you set your mind to something and you did it. For me, I’ll know what that feels like again when I am one of those little runners in the picture below and I cross mile marker number 26.
[2010 Chicago Marathon, via]