We all hear how important it is to have and set goals for yourself. You probably heard it growing up, and we hear it still as adults. But why is that? And if they're so important, why is it so hard to do??
I used to really struggle with setting goals for myself. I found that I was more concerned with what other people thought I should be doing, than actually setting goals that I wanted to accomplish. A big breakthrough came for me when I realized that I should be setting goals based on how I wanted to feel. Knowing how I wanted to feel allowed me to breakdown the steps I thought I needed to get there. Whether that was "healthy" or "happy" or "stronger" or any other feeling.
Yes, this requires some soul-searching, but it's totally worth it!
Example: I want to feel Healthier.
- Where am I currently? I exercise regularly with a mix of cardio and weightlifting in CrossFit classes several times per week. I also take a recovery hike and/or bike ride most weekends.
- How do I want to feel? more physically limber and mobile
- Why? I get one body and one life and treating it well now is important to me long-term! I am pretty bad about stretching before and/or after all those exercises.... which is terrible!! Especially since I know very well that some of my workout limitations are caused by a lack of mobility.
- Can I define a target area? Absolutely! My shoulders and hips are consistently tight from my desk job, and I have notoriously restricted ankles and calves from a long history of soccer.
- What can I do? Knowing these areas to focus on, I can dedicate particular times to working on them. Or if this seems too daunting, I could pick a certain area to focus on first. I used to do quite a bit of vinyasa yoga and was noticing great improvements, so perhaps trading out a training day for a yoga class would be beneficial. Or even adding in daily small sessions on my own. In addition, setting up regular chiropractic visits has helped my neck and shoulders tremendously!
Milestones & Rewards
After going through that little exercise, it's important to be kind to yourself. Setting too lofty of a goal too soon can actually discourage any progress. Does that mean don't set far-away, challenging goals? Absolutely not! But if that's the type of goal you've made yourself, see what smaller goals you can set along the way!
Another great way to stay motivated is to build yourself in rewards. Whether that's the cute dress you spotted last week, treating yourself to a night at the movies with some friends, or picking some pretty wildflowers to brighten up your table, treat yourself each time you hit a goal. Rewards keep goals fun and interesting and sometimes we need that little bit of extra incentive to keep pushing!!
Whatever rewards you build-in, make sure they don't counteract any other goals you may have! If I have another goal of saving for vacation, my health rewards shouldn't require money!
Having someone on the sidelines cheering you on is a great way to stay focused and hitting your goals. But unless you share your goal, the people in your life will never know how hard you're working. Let at least one person in on what you're doing and why.
Also, I find that it's really important to let that person (or people) know HOW to support you. If you need the harsh "don't let me do x" or if you need positive affirmation when you're doing well.... tell them! I know myself that I respond much better to someone telling me I've done a great job than someone telling me that I failed 3 times last week. Remember, small steps are okay!
Lastly, it's important to stay honest with yourself throughout the process. If you set a goal and part-way through realize that the goal you set isn't actually something you're interested in... adjust! Now, that's different than realizing a goal is harder than you thought and quitting. If that's the case, go back and rethink of some smaller goals in between like we discussed. But if it's something that you're truly just not interested in anymore, scratch it off the list and start back at the top! Remember, I said that my breakthrough came from realizing I needed to set goals that would make me feel a certain way at the end!