We all have goals. We all have those things we want to accomplish. Fitness is no different. We see ourselves achieving something spectacular to improve our health, our well-being, and our life as a whole. Having big goals is a great motivating factor to push yourself. If more people shot for the stars we would have a much better society all together. There is a right and wrong way to go about it, though. Done the right way, you can be aiming for the moon in no time.
What makes a good goal?
Obviously a good goal needs to be beneficial. It needs to provide something of pleasure, functionality, or self-fulfillment. Understanding that goals aren't meant for recognition or a trophy help maintain happiness. That's like working at a job you hate everyday just for money. Yes, you have to do what you have to do, but at the end of the day you've completely wasted your time doing something you don't like.
A good goal is specific. Saying "I want to be healthier" is great and all, but it isn't specific. How are you going to measure what healthy is? Is eating more fruits and veggies being healthier? Is going to the gym 1x/week healthier? 2x/week? 3x/week? Catch my drift? So if you want to be healthier, your goal should be that. Maybe you've decided you need to lose weight. How much weight? The goal should be "I'm going to lose X amount of weight in X amount of time."
That brings me to the next thing a good goal has. Realism. Now, I know I said aim for the moon and shoot for the stars, but there's a correct way to do that, too. One step at a time is how it's done. If you want to be a millionaire, don't count on winning the lottery tomorrow because it won't happen. You must set small goals for shorter time periods, moderate goals for moderate time periods, and big goals for big time periods. Simple right? For example, if you want to lose 25 lbs (a good rate of weight loss is 1-2 lbs per week), don't give yourself two months to do it because your expectation will be let down and you'll become discouraged. You'd need at minimum 12 weeks! Do some research, and find out what other people have done and how long it took them to set your own goal. We have so many tools at our disposal; there is absolutely no excuse for not knowing.
Lastly, good goals are meaningful and the best goals are intrinsically meaningful. A lot of times we know we need to do something but it doesn't matter to us, personally. You may know you need to lose 25 lbs. You may know you need to go to that class. You may know you need to eat better... doesn't mean you want to though. Intrinsically meaningful goals are the most powerful because it's something inside you that makes you work towards it. You can try to lose 25 lbs to look better at the beach and it may motivate you. You're doing it for something else though, for the beach. It may very well be enough to change your body but what happens after the beach? Do you put it back on? You now have to find a new motivating factor. If a goal is intrinsically motivating then you're less likely to give up and more likely to stop at nothing till you reach it. You'll always have yourself and your body to live with, so if the goal is meaningful to YOU then you'll have an ace in the hole every time. We put meaning behind everything we do so why are goals any different?
If you follow these 3 principles to goal setting I can almost guarantee nothing will be able to stop you from reaching everything you dream about. It's not to say there won't be failures, road blocks, and let-downs. Going after goals isn't easy for a reason. There must be discipline, sacrifices, and persistence. Time is of the essence; while we don't have relatively long on this planet, we must practice aggressive patience while on the path towards achieving our goals. Many things are thought to be instantaneous it the world today, but the best goals, the best accomplishments, and the best things in life come in time as long as we work hard and be consistent.