Thoughts on goals

“I’ve already hit one of my weekly goals,” I said to my housemate as we headed to the gym for our Wednesday workout.

“What’s that?” he asked.

“I’ve eaten fish for two meals this week.”

“You can’t make that a goal.”

“Why not?”

“It’s too easy.”

This was the catalyst for a discussion in which I explained the value of having easy-to-accomplish goals. I began to realize from this conversation and talks with others that many people think that goals need to be far-reaching, hard-to-obtain things. This might explain people’s inability to reach goals that they’ve set up for themselves — they’re making goals that are too hard.

Stepping stones

For me, eating fish twice in a week is not a tough goal, but it’s a goal nonetheless. I rarely eat fish simply because I just don’t think about it. By making it a goal, it served as a reminder that I should add it to my menu for the week. If I had not set this minor task as a goal, it’s not likely that I would’ve eaten fish.

To the casual observer, this might not seem like such a big deal. To me, it’s a stepping stone to my much larger goal of getting into the best shape of my life.

The point I wanted my housemate to understand was that goals don’t have to be things that are tough to reach. Small goals such as eating fish twice a week are only stepping stones to much larger goals.

Imagine that you wanted to bench press 300 lbs. How would you go about that? Would you simply try to bench press 300 and give up if you didn’t get it? No, you’d set smaller goals for yourself. This week, try bench pressing 200 for 5 reps. Next week, move up to 205 for 5 reps. You’d continue setting these smaller goals to help you achieve your larger goal.

I long ago realized that my housemate was not setting these types of “stepping stone” goals for himself. He was simply going through the same motions but not having anything to work toward but those elusive, hard-to-reach goals. He’s also been stuck at the same point for over two months.

Creating and tracking goals

Admittedly, I sometimes forget that I need to make smaller goals to help see my larger goals through. With that and my housemate’s dilemma in mind, I entered research mode to find the perfect workout planner/logbook. I wanted something that fit our eating and workout plan.

I couldn’t find anything that was perfect, but the next best thing was a something called Fitbook.

Fitbook is a portable workout and nutritional planner that covers you for a 12-week period. It lets you set up daily, weekly, and overall 12-week goals. It even has a rewards system, which is my favorite feature.

I’m not saying you need to go out and get a Fitbook (I highly encourage you to do so if you want a good workout/nutrition planner). A plain ol’ notepad and pencil will work just fine.

The idea is to start setting achievable goals and reaching them. The simple act of writing a goal down will make most people more likely to actually hit that goal. Rewarding yourself for accomplishing goals will make it even more likely that you’ll get there.

The responsibility of creating and tracking goals is on you though. No one can do it for you. My housemate’s progress with his Fitbook? Nada.

My goals

I’ve been on a vacation this week. Part of this vacation time has been dedicated to reevaluating some of my goals both personally and professionally. The most important thing for me has been to evaluate my fitness level and make a realistic plan to execute over the next few months.

I’m using my newly acquired Fitbook to keep track of my goals. I’ve even created a dedicated fitness goals page here on the site so everyone can see what I’m up to.

Since the Fitbook has a rewards system, I figured I might as well take advantage of it. I decided to keep my rewards pretty simple. I’ll be putting money into a personal fund for myself if I hit the following:

  • $10/weekly goal reached (10 – 15 weekly goals).
  • $50/overall goal reached (10 – 15 overall goals).

Over a 12-week period, I could save anywhere from $1,700 – $2,550, assuming I reach all of my goals.

Where will all this money go? I’m designating it as my new wardrobe fund. I’m running out of clothes I can actually wear. It won’t be long before I’ll be forced to get new clothes anyway, so the more goals I reach the more clothes I can buy.

Also, if you didn’t quite catch it, I’ve also had to set up a few financial goals in order to fund my fitness goals.

Make a plan. Execute.

Reaching goals is not hard. Simply make realistic goals.

There’s nothing wrong with having major goals. Those are great too. However, your daily, weekly, and monthly focus should be on smaller, more immediately achievable goals. These goals should help you work toward your big goals. I’m currently focusing on fitness goals, but this advice applies to anything you want to achieve.

I know tons of people who have dreams, but those people don’t quite understand the difference between a dream and a goal. A dream is something you want to do but likely never will. A goal is something you’ve written down, prepared yourself mentally for, and have made a plan to execute. It’s something that’s achievable.

So, here’s your homework:

  • Get a pen and pad.
  • Write down your dreams.
  • Write down everything it will take to achieve those dreams.
  • Make daily, weekly, and monthly stepping-stone goals.
  • Execute.

By the way, you no longer have dreams. You have goals.

Not everyone is up to the task. I’m afraid my housemate is amongst that group of people, but I’m working on him. Wish me luck.