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  • Ollie McCarthy

Goal setting- beyond S.M.A.R.T goals

The “why”

A huge part of goal setting that is rarely talked about is the “why?”

Why that goal? Why that amount? Why that timescale? Why is this goal important to you?

If you can’t answer that question, I would perhaps have a long, hard think about your why, before going any further. To succeed in your goal, you need a driving force. A BIG reason why that goal is important for you. Something that will resonate and push you to stay on track when times get hard.

On the subject on times getting hard- one problem I encounter is people picking goals which are wholly unrealistic, not only in the sense of whether they are able to achieve them but also in the sense of what they have to sacrifice.

In any goal you are looking to achieve, it’s not the hard work and what you put into the goal that is the hard bit. It’s often what you have to stop doing, what you have to sacrifice to be successful that is the tough part.

Want to lose weight? Well then those high calorie foods, extra time on the sofa and boozy weekends may be reduced. Want to run a marathon? Forget late nights and netflix, you have cold windy nights running ahead. Want to build a six figure business? Time with family and friends may have to be forgone and don’t be surprised if you’re working 6-7 day weeks.

I am by no means trying to put you off but having a realistic expectation of what it will take to achieve these things, is going to set you off on the front foot. There will be an element of sacrifice, embrace it. If it was easy, everyone would do it.

Path to success

Below are some key factors to consider when setting goals and planning a route to success.

Start low, aim high- as humans we tend to be optimists which while having many great advantages, is pretty terrible when setting goals. When you are setting your goal then start worst case scenario. I’m talking week from hell, everything goes wrong. If you can plan for that week, then you set yourself up for success. You can always have “optional extras” (eat less calories, do more exercise, do more work etc) for weeks that aren’t armageddon.

Test then reassess- Work in small blocks of time. For example a month/ 6 weeks is perfect to test what you are doing and seeing if it is actually working. Your overall goal may be 6 months away but breaking it down into 6 mini blocks will enable you to constantly test, track and see what works.

Blast then cruise- trying to continually work towards a goal with no breaks can be tough, mentally and physically. If you schedule downtime (less exercise, more calories, less work) into your long term goal then this can often help to keep adherence higher.

If we look at a 6 month goal broken into 6 week blocks then every 6th week we may have a slightly easier week. For an exercise based goal this would be a deload (less volume) or for a weight based goal a maitainence week (a week bringing calories higher so you maintain weight.) Nothing in life tends to be linear so have times when you blast (work hard) and cruise (have breaks, periods of easier work.)

Lastly- S.M.A.R.T goals.

Generally we will have come across these at some point (school maybe) but lets re-cap.

Specific- I want to lose bodyweight through exercise and diet

Measurable- I want to lose 5kg in bodyweight

Attainable- I will be doing in slowly over a long time period with help from a trainer

Relevant- I am currently overweight and want to improve my health and how I look

Time based- I am going to lose this weight in 6 months

This is a very rough outline but you get the picture. This will give you the nitty gritty details of the goal setting. Add this to the soul searching you may have done in the first part of this article and you have a much clearer path to success.

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