Q: Talk to me about goal setting

Q: I’m wondering what I will do when I get to the end of my goal of 30 days on a diet.

A: Good question, but that’s not your goal.  There are a couple of things about goals that this statement misses, and one about ‘the diet’.  Let’s take them in turn:

  1. Let’s start with the diet part.  This word – diet – isn’t a diet in the misused ‘Slim-Fast’ sense of the word – a shake for breakfast, shake for lunch and sensible dinner.  It’s about diet in the true sense of the word – what you eat day in / day out to fuel your life.  Look at it that way, and ideas like ’30 days on’ fade away.  This is about educating yourself to eat healthier for life, and get the body you want – and maintain it – as a result.
  2. Goals, to me, shouldn’t be focused on grinning and bearing it, which is exactly what you are doing by saying, “30 days on my diet.”  It’s really saying, “I can put up with it for 30 days,” as if you’re holding your breath in pain at the bottom of the pool for a couple of minutes.   This is exactly what’s wrong with this statement. First, when you are done with the breath holding, you gasp in a huge amount of air. In the food world, substitute air with all kinds of foods you’ve been avoiding, and you see why people gain the weight right back when they think this way.  Second, you’re viewing the journey as a painful thing you just need to get through and be done with. That negativity will breed failure (don’t forget my blog on this topic!).
  3. Is this why you’re ‘on the diet’?  To be ‘on’ it?  No, of course not. You’re on it because you want to transform yourself into something better.  It’s not about a pair of jeans or some event you want to look good for.  Those things are fleeting and superficial. Deep down – and this takes some introspection to truly see – you want to be better for yourself.  This transformation is the goal.  As I’ve shared, I had weight loss targets as my initial goal, and then moved to fat loss targets once I hit (and surpassed) my weight target.  I’m now 10 lbs under my weight target. I’ve kept my targets fluid and challenging – yet achievable – to keep me in it and inspired to fight on for myself.

Is this ’30 days on my diet’ goal all bad?  No. You’ve hit on a really important point – we need to make things time-bound. If not, we back away from achieving them as we can keep pushing out the end date we have in our minds, and never get there. So, I like the time aspect of this, but flip the rest of it into something focused on what you really want to achieve.  While we’re at it, goals must be trackable – you need to know both when you’ve nailed it and how you’re doing along the way so you can course-correct before it’s too late.  In the diet example, you could keep a food journal, and note any cheating you did with ‘on it for 30 days’ meaning zero cheating (outside of cheat day, of course).

Remember Principle 2 from the newbodi.es 10 Principles to change your body & life:

set goals – near and far
Set goals that both push you (longer term or ultimate goals) and motivate you with frequent achievement (short term goals). This isn’t meant to be a walk in the park, nor is it meant to be unachievable. Build balanced personal challenges with clear timeframes – for instance, I want to lose 30 lbs by the summer and 5 lbs by the end of the month. As an example from my own life, my ultimate goal was to go from 222 to 180 by year end. I did it 3 months early. My new goal is to get to 10% body fat or below. I started at 19.5%, and finished last year at 13%. I am giving myself until July 1st – the 1 year mark from when I started it all.

It may all sound really obvious to you, but it isn’t obvious.  And it may seem irrelevant since it’s just about goal setting for yourself, but it is relevant. If it was so obvious, people would only set meaningful, inspiring goals that lead to achievement, and yet they don’t.  If it was irrelevant, then people would perform amazingly regardless of whether they set a good goal or not.  The goal is the foundation of success – set it well and you set yourself up to really shine.

Got a goal? Share it with me, and we can talk through it. Share it with others publicly, and then you have the social pressure to reinforce your success (Principle 3). Set effective goals as a foundation to enlighten.your.body.

About bryan falchuk

bryan falchuk is the founder of newbodi.es, a certified personal trainer, behavior change specialist and the best-selling author of "Do a Day". bryan coaches people on their whole health - the physical, mental and emotional combination of wellness that we need to thrive and change our lives.

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