As we begin the year many of us will take the time to set health & fitness goals for 2023. Setting goals is an essential part of creating lasting success in fitness, which is why most of us take time to set them. But too often, we focus on the outcome of our goals instead of the process of achieving them. Today I will share with you an easy and effective process of setting goals so you actually achieve them…
The best book I have read on goal setting is the book Atomic Habits (If you haven’t read this book you should get a copy), Author James Clear outlines a goal-setting system that focuses less on the goal and more on the habits that lead to achieving the outcome. Today I will summarise my key takeaways for you!
Small habits can have a large cumulative effect if practiced consistently over time.
James starts by emphasising the importance of setting the right goals by using the framework many of us will be familiar with, SMART. Goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART).
The next step is taking the outcome-based goal and reverse engineering the habits that will lead you to the outcome. Goals should focus on the process of taking action, rather than the outcome of that action.
A simple example of this is the goal; I want to lose 5kg of body fat.
This is the outcome.
A habit-based goal would be more along the lines of; Tracking my calories and hitting them with 5%.
You can see how this action-based goal when done consistently leads to eating less food and ultimately losing 5kg.
Once you do these daily tasks you can add them to an app like “Way of Life” which will remind you to do these tasks regularly which, is an easy way to keep yourself motivated and accountable.
The next thing you should do is break your big outcome goals into smaller, manageable steps which allows for more little wins and motivation along the way.
An example of this would be to break your weight loss goal into small wins like; To lose 2kg.
Establish a system of rewards and consequences to reinforce desired habits.
Humans are highly motivated by pain and pleasure, some of us find more motivation from avoiding pain while others move naturally toward pleasure. Whatever your motivation profile is, you can increase the likelihood of achieving your goals by creating a reward system by using this profile.
This can look like this; Once you hit a goal, how will you reward yourself? How will you punish yourself if you don’t?
An example of this is someone who is really motivated by money, using this to help them towards their goal. If you achieve your goal by the time you said you would, maybe you’re allowed to buy something you desperately want. If you don’t, maybe you have to pay your accountabilabuddy a chunk of cash because you didn’t follow through… The trick with this is it has to be enough pain that you really do not want it to happen. Then, use this motivation to help keep you on track.
Identify the cues that trigger your habits and use them to your advantage.
This one is crucial! Take the time to think about the cues that cause a habit. Think about them positively and negatively.
Let me explain, if you want to lose weight but you know you binge on chocolate at night, what is the habit that leads to this? Is it boredom? Hunger? Whatever the cue, once you’ve identified it you can begin to change the response to that cue. An example of this is if I got hungry after dinner and crave something sweet I could preemptively have a bowl of fruit salad ready to go…
A positive way you can use cues is to think about the cues that lead to the activity you want to encourage. If you want to train more but work gets in the way causing you to have to stay back at work. Ask yourself the question how can you reduce the friction of this? A simple one would be to go in the morning before the day gets in the way.
Make it easy to do the right thing by removing temptations and obstacles.
Quite simply, reduce the friction or increase the friction of a habit depending on how it serves you. Here are some examples;
- Remove food temptations from the house (increases the friction and makes it harder for you to get your hands on it)
- Pack your bag the night before so you’re ready to go in the morning (Reduces the friction and makes it easier)
- Sleep in your gym clothes so you don’t even need to get dressed before the gym (Reduces the friction, you don’t have to get changed)
- Book your classes in advance so they are in your schedule (Increases the friction and makes it harder for you to cancel because the coaches know you canceled…)
Hopefully, you get the point!
Take advantage of the power of the environment and community to help you stick with your habits.
Your environment is crucial to your success. An easy way to ensure you smash your goal is to connect with others who have similar goals. You can keep each other accountable and help provide motivation and accountability to move towards your goal.
I like to train in classes that have people who push me to lift heavier, and train harder! This ultimately leads to better results because I constantly push harder than I would if I was by myself.
- Small habits can have a large cumulative effect if practiced consistently over time.
- Establish a system of rewards and consequences to reinforce desired habits.
- Identify the cues that trigger your habits and use them to your advantage.
- Make it easy to do the right thing by removing temptations and obstacles.
- Take advantage of the power of the environment and community to help you stick with your habits.
By following these principles, we can set ourselves up for success by focusing on the habits needed to achieve our goals rather than the outcome. By focusing on the process, we can create the habits and routines needed to reach our goals in 2023.