I'm a strong believer in the value of setting goals and have achieved some of my proudest 'wins' when chasing after some meaningful, well defined goals. I find that setting goals provides a number of benefits including:
1) Increased motivation
2) Improved decision making
3) Better accountability
One of the best frameworks for goal setting is the SMART approach. While there are differing opinions on what each letter in the acronym represents, this version works well: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound.
Specific - Set your goal at the right level and with sufficient clarity so that you can define a clear path to achieve it.
Measurable- Make sure you have an objective, tangible way of assessing progress towards your goal.
Attainable - To give yourself a reasonable chance of success, your goal should be achievable. For example, adding 10 pounds of muscle in one month is not an attainable goal, so setting this as your goal is setting yourself up for failure.
Relevant - The goal needs to really resonate with you. What would achieving this goal mean to you? If you're going to devote serious effort to achieving it, make sure it is worth while pursuing.
Time-bound - Set an end date for your goal. This will help you stay focused and creates a sense of urgency to your actions.
Let's look at an example SMART goal setting applied to a frequent New Year's resolution. Instead of 'My New Year's Resolution is to lose weight', which is an admirable goal, a SMARTer goal is 'My New Year's Resolution is to lose 10 pounds before my Spring Break beach vacation'. While the overall objective is the same, we now have 1) a Specific, Measurable target, 2) an Attainable target and 3) a Time-frame for achieving the goal. With this well defined goal and timeline you can craft a plan to get you from your current state to your desired state, track your progress along the way, and modify your plan as needed to keep you moving towards your goal. The chances of success are much better with the SMART goal.
The beauty of this goal setting approach is that it works wonderfully when applied to many areas of your life. I've used goal setting to improve my health, the quality of my relationships, and grow my business. The amazing thing about goal setting is that success in one area tends to have a positive spill-over effect into other areas of your life, creating a virtuous cycle of personal growth.
If you have never tried goal setting, I suggest you start with one or two small goals. Write down your goals. Post them somewhere where you will see them often (the refrigerator or bathroom mirror are good options). Share them with a friend or family member who will help hold you accountable, or try an online accountability partner like Stickk that 'fines' you if you don't stick to your goals. Regularly track your progress towards you goals. Bask in your wins and use any missed goals as a learning opportunity (i.e. why do you fail? Was the goal not meaningful?, Not realistic?). Goal setting, applied consistently over time, will lead to meaningful personal growth and help you towards your best self.
The primary objective when I started Body Insight was to provide easy access to leading edge health and fitness testing services to help people understand their current state, set fitness goals, and measure their progress towards their goals. My staff and I would love to show you around our clinic and explain how you can use our test services to help you achieve your health, fitness and body composition goals.