Goal Setting Tips from Stratton Performance
Hey, the site has been lacking new content towards the tail end of this year; something I plan to avoid in the future and will certainly be part of my goal setting and planning for the coming year.
Now, I’m not going to try to mystify goal setting into a magical art form – its easy to do. It is however also easy to do badly and to get it very wrong, leaving yourself will little chance of achieving your vision, being left with the disappointment of lots of hard work for little, or worse, no fruition.
My plan is to help simplify this process, to give you a few key Goal setting principles that I’ve picked up on the way which I used last year to achieve beyond my initial goals, something that I’ll strive to do again for the next year.
What Do I Want?
This is the key that you really have to answer first – obvious really, but I’ve rarely ever met anyone that really identifies exactly where they want to be going forward. It’s very hard to have the smoothest possible journey if you only know roughly where you might want to go, you’ll need the specifics!
It’s a bit like if I gave you a job to go collect something in person for me from Thailand.
If that’s all I gave you as a plan, you’d know the rough direction, but that would be it. You need to know so much more for it to be a worthwhile journey!
This is where the commonly used SMART acronym and its variants come into play.
You’ll need to ask lots of questions, a few of the following would help:
What exactly you are collecting?
How big is it (will it be easy to transport back to UK)?
Where in Thailand is it located?
When do you need it by?
Who are the contacts I can liaise with for each stage?
Are travel arrangements already in place (flights, internal transport, visa)?
How much will this all cost (is it already paid for)?
This would then create further questions, and a plan could be built and we can then work out whether this is achievable and what we want.
That’s just for a basic example of one task, so why do so many of us list a few goals and wonder why things don’t work out (guilty as charged!)?
These are some classic goals, we used to see on New Years Resolutions lists across the globe:
- Stop Smoking
- Lose Weight
- Drink less Alcohol
- Get a six-pack
- Eat less Junk food
- Drink more water
These often don’t work out too great, for many reasons – they are all achievable, some more than others, dependent upon your starting point.
Problem is, the first few at the top of the list are not positively stated; they are focused on what you are trying to move away from. It’s proven that you’ll be more likely to be successful in achieving goals when they are positively stated, so try to re-phrase these; an example would be to change ‘Drink less alcohol’ for someone who drinks every day, you could change this to ‘I will have at least 5 alcohol free days a week, all year during the next year’ – this goal is positive and specific and gives clear direction of what it will take to meet the goal or break it.
I thought you’d find the following list quite interesting; it’s from a poll of 2000 LA Fitness members on their 2013 goals; as you can see, these are changing more from the classical goals typically listed, with some of the more popular choices in the past dropping way down the list!
Part of this is today’s lazy western culture of the ‘instant generation’, who want things now, without wanting to put much effort in!
As people have become more aware of goal setting and making things specific and measurable, this is often lost by setting goals which are too simple, which won’t do much to improve your lives and will certainly give very little satisfaction once achieved.
The journey to achieving your goals is where you will learn and grow the most as a person, including the mistakes and the wrong turns.
Read the list of New Year’s resolutions below:
1. Read more books
2. Save more money
3. Lose weight
5. Take better photos
6. Go travelling
7. Sell old unwanted stuff on eBay
8. Buy a tablet
9. Organise photos
10. Do something for charity
11. Spend more time with kids
12. Buy a Sunday paper
13. Less TV time
14. Connect my computer to my TV
15. Leave work on time more often
16. Less time on Facebook
17. Totally revamp my wardrobe
18. Try a new hairstyle
19. Get a six-pack
20. Eat less chocolate
21. Socialise more in real life rather than Facebook
22. Drink less alcohol
23. Buy less coffee from Starbucks/big chains
24. Start my own business
25. Tell someone I have feelings for them
26. Quit smoking
27. Gain a promotion
28. Learn how to use Twitter
29. Run a half or full marathon
30. Call people more than text
31. Cut someone out of my life who isn’t good for me
32. Meet online contacts in real life
33. Watch less reality TV
34. Text people less
35. Try to save relationship
36. Try extreme sports
37. Get better at social networking
38. Stop contacting/going back to an ex-partner
39. Have a face-to-face with my boss to find out where I stand
40. Do a bungee jump
Interesting stuff! I’d love to be able to see if there was much of a detailed breakdown and plan for some of the more adventurous and challenging of the goals in the list above?
I suspect there often wasn’t, and most of those goals never quite came off! What do you think, am I being to pessimistic?
I really like to have a crystal clear vision of my future, then try to identify the components of this and what I can commit to do, to move towards this vision.
It’s important to understand this whole vision, like you are glimpsing into the future, having traveled forward with your De Lorean time machine (I’m an 80’s baby). This involves more than just fitness and career goals – you need to consider all the things in this ideal future life, so that you don’t neglect and leave out things that are important to you.
Once you have this vision, check that you have balance, as this is important when trying to move towards your goals in a sustainable way both physically and mentally.
The 4 areas to consider are:
The ‘Pray’ part doesn’t have to mean in the religious worship sense, if this isn’t your thing, it can mean anything that is reflective time for you to review things and your direction, as you’ll often go off track ,and your goals will move and change and plans will need interventions from time to time. Therefore, ‘Pray’ can be relaxation, meditation, general time to contemplate. The others should be fairly obvious!
Rather than that repeat this stuff in detail again, here is a link to the article I wrote that shares some of these balance ideas from Dan John.
Dan is a very smart Guy and a brilliant coach – I was fortunate to hear him speak earlier this year in London at an event I attended with Brendan Chaplin (cheers for sorting Brendan). I would highly recommend reading his work.
Sharing your goals with individuals is a fantastic way to bind you into seeing them through – its human nature to be more likely to stay loyal to your plans if you are accountable to others.
It’s not that scary – there is no ultimatum, just a choice – to either do something, or not. A, or B.
It may be that you check in with your Goal Auditor in Feb and you didn’t quite hit an agreed action, you to promise to complete this by the next month and make up for it with starting another action.
I will share my own personal fitness goals with a Friend of mine who trains really hard, Rosie Lee, so that I am accountable and I’m sure she will do likewise.
I am also part of a Mentorship Network through Brendan Chaplin’s program, so I will have many goals for coaching, business, getting a DVD filmed, running workshops – so many things. By sharing these with the group, I am not only highly accountable to deliver on these, but I have support from many like-minded and experienced individuals that can help me along when I hit a bottleneck. Many of us will also have aligned goals, so we can effectively combine our efforts as a team to then help one another accelerate progress and deliver quality and to a scale never possible individually.
Make things easy to measure and monitor
Final thing I’d like to speak about is making it easy to meet your goals.
A quick and usable example of this is for one of my small sub-goals for my own training. I do not drink enough water – I know I should – I’ve had time where I did drink more, and felt better for it, so it should be a no-brainer and simple to adopt, but it still isn’t!
One thing that helped a friend was to make it simple to track it.
They take their drinking/gym bottle with them whether at work or wherever.
The goal is to drink 5 bottles or water per day. They have 5 elastic bands wrapped around the bottle – after each empty bottle and refill they remove a band! Simple way to monitor intake and ensure targets are met, without having to think too hard or over complicate things!
They also don’t like the blandness of water, so stick a few chunks of frozen lemon/lime pieces in the bottle too.
Simple stuff like that really helps make things become habit. Try to think of ways to do this with any goals, wherever possible and it will make such a difference.
- Know what you really want
- Create a detailed map that will help take you there
- Share the vision and your plan with others to be accountable
- Track and monitor progress and don’t be afraid to modify the plan
In my next post I’ll share a couple of simple ideas to help you with that crystal clear vision of what you want that will make all the difference to achieving some fantastic goals over the coming year.