How To Set And Achieve Goals - By Kay Nyenuh
What is a Goal?
Due to the nature of my work (Personal Trainer, Gym Owner), I get to ask people almost everyday what their goals are for either joining the gym, taking up personal training or doing both. And majority of the time the common answers I hear are:
“I want to lose weight.”
“I want to get fit.”
“I want to tone up.”
“I want to get stronger” etc.
Now, when you don’t understand goal setting you might think those are perfectly fine goals. I mean after all, they seem totally logical, right? But I want you to pause for a minute and read those again and try to figure out what’s missing.
A Goal is defined as an idea of the future that a person or an organization envisions, plans and commits to achieve or reach within a finite timeframe by setting deadlines. Can you start to see what’s missing from our examples earlier? Based on the definition above, there are some very key words to consider here. First, it is just an idea to start with. It is something that you envision – something that you imagine or visualize as a future possibility. And the stronger your emotions are toward that image in your mind, the more likely you are to bring that idea into reality. Thoughts actioned become things and reality. Secondly, just having the idea in your mind is not enough. You must make plans toward achieving that goal. A detailed outline of how you are going to achieve your goal makes working on your goal easier. And by making progress on your plan, you build confidence that you can achieve your goal. Thirdly, you must commit to that goal. Without commitment no goal will be achieved. Being committed to your goal is imperative to your success. And lastly, you must set deadlines. A goal without a deadline is just a wish or a good idea. A deadline enables you to focus and work toward achieving your goal within a set timeframe – beginning and the end. Remember, pressure makes diamonds. But I must also say this, whilst setting deadlines are very important, if you don’t achieve your goal by a set deadline, it doesn’t mean that you abandon your goal. Don’t change the goal, change the timeline or move the deadline.
By setting deadlines, you will become good at gauging how long it will take you to achieve a goal you set for yourself in the future.
The issue with “I want to lose weight, get fit, tone up or get strong” is that though they sound very reasonable, they are not goals. They are what I call good ideas, dreams or wishes. I will dive a little deeper into this later in this blog but for now let’s first understand why it is important to set goals.
Why is it important to set goals?
It is very important for us to set goals because through goal setting you can create for yourself the life that you want. The body that you want; the career that you want; the financial status that you want; the work/life balance that you want; the relationship that you want; the personal development etc.
Setting goals gives you a sense of purpose and meaning. And having purpose and meaning in life brings you happiness. Achieving goals also helps to boost your self-confidence in your ability to achieve things that are important to you.
Here’s an example to explain the above. In 2009, after years of residing on refugee camps, I migrated to this beautiful country with nothing and I mean absolutely nothing. Through goal setting, I was able create for myself the life that I now live. A beautiful wife and two amazing children, a great local business that focuses on people and our community and I find myself in the position where I am asked to write this blog for you to read.
Why people don’t set goals?
So! If goal setting is so important why is it that many people don’t set goals? There are several answers to this question, but I believe these four reasons capture the essence of why people don’t set goals.
They think goal setting is not important – if like me you grew up in an environment where setting goals wasn’t part of your upbringing you wouldn’t consider it. Or you may think it is unnecessary. But the good news is, goal setting can be learned. I learned it and it has made a world of difference to my life.
They don’t know how to set goals – majority of people genuinely don’t know how to set goals. And I used to be one of them. So, when I hear potential clients say: I want to lose weight as their goal, I understand where they’re coming from and so I help guide them in the direction of setting and achieving their goals. I help turn their good ideas, dreams and wishes into goals that can be achieved.
They fear failure – don’t we all. The fear of failure can be crippling. Failure itself brings upon us both emotional and financial heartaches which can be very painful at times. It is this fear that limits us in our abilities to set big goals, so we often tend to play it safe. We set the bar low. We wallow within our comfort zones. What helps me overcome my fear is believing that Courage - is not the absence of fear but understanding that something is more important and acting towards that thing is greater than the fear. You never fail, you only learn if you pay attention. And
They fear rejection – we are social beings and whether we agree with it or not, we value the opinions of others, what they think of us and we sometimes crave their validation. We fear that if we set a goal and don’t achieve it, others will criticise or ridicule us. If you have this concern, my advice is that you first keep your goals to yourself. And as you get more confident in achieving your goals then you can start telling people.
How to Set and Achieve your Goals
There are two most important reasons why people never achieve their goals in life. Knowing these two reasons will make a huge difference to you setting and achieving meaningful goals.
They don’t know WHAT they want. You can never achieve something that you don’t know. You can’t hit a target that you cannot see.
They don’t know WHY they want it. If you don’t have a WHY your chances for success are very limited.
In goal setting it is very important to first get crystal clear on these two things. Identify
What is it that you want? – Your Desire and
Why do you want it? - Your Why, Purpose or Drive
Knowing your What and Why will help you determine first, your How – how am I going to achieve this goal? Then your When – when do I want/need to achieve this goal by and then before you even start working on your goal, you ask yourself what I call the second HOW – How Bad Do I Want It?!
Having just a desire is not enough. It must be a burning desire and the size of the fire under your desire must be to the same magnitude of a bush fire.
To determine your Why, it helps to first ask yourself: how is this going to change my life or the lives of others? What impact or difference will it make if I achieve this goal?
For any goal to be within your grasps or achievable, it must be what’s referred to as a SMART goal.
S – Specific: your goal must be very clear, concise and well defined.
M – Measurable: it must be a specific amount by a specific time.
A – Attainable: it must be achievable within the constraints of time, money, environment as well as your skills and abilities. It is also good to set goals that will stretch you - Breakthrough goals. “Set a goal so big that in the process of achieving that goal, you become someone worth becoming”- Jim Rohn. Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself and set goals that will stretch you right outside of your comfort zones.
R – Realistic: Keep your goals in line with your purpose. There’s no point setting a goal about something that you’re not interested in. If your emotions about that goal are not strong, there’s a chance you will not achieve that goal. A goal must be aligned with your values, believes and principles.
T – Time-Bound: set deadlines and sub-deadlines. A goal without a deadline is just a wish.
Goal versus Wish
Wish: I want to lose weight. I want to lose weight is a wish or a good idea because it does not meet all the criteria of a goal. As mentioned above, a goal must be specific, measurable, attainable, and realistic and it must be time-bound. Can you see what’s missing in “I want to lose weight”? How much weight do you want to lose and by when?
Goal: say you weigh 75kg now and it is the 18th of February and in 3 months’ time you want to be 5kg lighter. So, you would write your goal like this:
I weigh 70kg by midnight May 18th. Or my goal is to lose 5 kilos and by the 18th of May I am 5 kilos lighter. Write your goals down as if you had already achieved them and then work back from there.
The same principle can be applied to the other examples as well.
“I want to get fit” what does that mean? Do you, for example, want to be able to run 5 kilometres under 30mins in 3 months’ time? Or do you want to be able to complete a circuit within a certain time by a certain date?
“I want to tone up” again, what does it mean? Do you want to reduce your body fat percentage down to a certain number by a certain date?
“I want to get stronger” and again, what would this look like for you? For example, do you want to be able to bench, squat or deadlift a certain weight by a certain date?
Being very clear and specific about what we want makes it easier for us to achieve our goals.
Are you capable of achieving a goal?
Absolutely! Just tell your brain what you want and why you want it and see what happens. If we tell our brains what it is that we want, when we lock it in through goal-setting, whatever goal we give our subconscious mind, our brain will start finding ways to help us achieve that goal. It will look for the people, organization, resources, information, and opportunities to help us achieve whatever it is that we want.
For example, my wife and I have a newborn baby so when we go to Caneland with our daughter, guess what we notice? We start noticing all the babies, mums with prams, pregnant women etc that we didn’t notice before when our brains weren’t consumed with the thought and presence of our own little girl.
The same thing happens with goal setting. When we tell our brains what it is that we want and have strong emotional connections toward that image of what we want, our brain then suddenly begins to present us with the opportunities and resources that we need to achieve that goal but couldn’t notice before though they may have been there all along. That’s the magical power of goal setting. Try it and see.
Okay! I am a firm believer that knowledge is only potential power. Applied knowledge is true power. So, here’s some actions you can take to help you achieve your goals:
Identify what you want and why you want it
Prioritise your goals. Write them down in their order of importance
Put in place measures and standards to track your progress.
Set deadlines and sub-deadlines
Identify key obstacles and difficulties that stand between you and your goals
Identify knowledge and skills that will give you the confidence and courage you need to achieve your goals
Identify people, groups and organizations and resources to help you achieve your goals
Set your identity and let that identity influence your actions. Who can achieve the goal you want to achieve? Become that person first by taking on that identity. Not at the end. For example, if I am a non-smoker, what does a non-smoker do?
Write down your goals. Don’t just keep them in your head.
Visualize your goals. Picture them in your mind and write them in places that will make it hard for you to forget them.
Measure your goals in space and time - how much by when
Work on your goals daily. What is the one thing you could do today that will help you get closer to your goal? Your actions should help get you closer to your goals, not pull you away from them.
Check your expectations. Do not compare yourself to others. Your today might be another person’s yesterday.
Focus on what is working. NOT on what isn’t working. Focusing on the things that aren’t working can derail your goal and sabotage your progress.
Understand that you won’t always be perfect. There will be shortfalls along the way. But remember it is never how many times you fall that matters. It is how many times you get back up.
Track and keep a written record of your progress – you can’t manage what you can’t measure
Break your goals down into as many smaller parts as possible – the journey of a thousand miles does not only begin with a single step, it is a combination of many single ones.
Thank you for reading,
By Kay Nyenuh – Founder/Owner Muscle Garden Health & Fitness Centre
P | 07 4944 0119
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