Why do you want to exercise? Why do you want to commit to a diet? A lot of people who are only just starting to get into healthier lifestyles do it for just that reason. It’s healthier. But they don’t put much more thought behind it. This isn’t the right way to think about the changes you want to make to your life. We’re going to get into the meat of why it’s not only likely to lead to less effective efforts but makes you more prone to giving up and slipping into bad habits.
You need a start
They say “start as you mean to go on”, and when it comes to fitness, there’s no denying the truth in that. As you go, you’re going to learn more about techniques, nutrition, and so on. But that knowledge needs a strong foundation to build on.
Learning about how you’re going to reach your goals gives you that foundation. You don’t suddenly become a health and fitness expert, you have to make a committed start to it. That means making a mental commitment to yourself, too. Look at your current state and be honest with yourself what you want to change. Write those changes down and start doing the research on how you get there.
You need direction
Goals are practical tools to help you break into raw data the means you use to reach them and their effectiveness. But they also provide some of the most important mental building blocks of a healthier lifestyle. In particular, the building block of “motivation” can be hard for many to reach. If you actively keep an objective in sight and work towards it, you are a lot more likely to be motivated enough to reach it, rather than hoping you reach it by taking whatever path seems helpful at the time.
Your goals won’t only become a line in the sand you move closer to, they can become a motivational mantra, helping you remind yourself why you put up with the time spent, effort invested, and pain endured. Without goals, you don’t have that and it becomes a lot easier to just give up.
You need a route
The most important part of goal setting is the fact that it helps you plot out the entire blueprint of what you need to be doing and when you need to be doing it. People have been refining exercise techniques, fitness programs, and diets for years now. There’s plenty of information to help you find exactly what step you need to take next.
If you want to know how to get shredded within the week, there are guides to help make that more likely to become a reality. The same goes for any other goal. You can only start finding the most truly useful information amongst the heaps and heaps of fitness advice when you know what you’re looking for.
You need momentum
Another key aspect of plotting out your course is being able to measure it along the way. When choosing goals, make sure they’re SMART. That’s Specific, Measurable, Agreed Upon, Realistic, and Timely. Don’t just make your goals some lofty end point. See how far you’re getting and keep track of your progress on your way.
For instance, if you’re looking to build muscle, then using reps and weights as milestones can make sure that you’re always moving towards that buff figure. Reaching those milestones isn’t just a way to make sure you have physical momentum in attaining your final goals, but in providing the aforementioned motivation as you keep going.
You need a whole map
What happens when you reach those goals at that end, or when you find out that you can give more, and make more changes? You make use of that momentum and add new goals. This is where the knowledge you gain as you research different methods and apply them comes in handy. You can start committing to new short-term and long-term fitness goals.
This is the point where you start moving away from a single-minded focus and truly becoming healthier in that broader focus by incorporating more new knowledge, techniques, and nutrition. You can start aiming to run 1km; you can aim to master some yoga poses; you can start incorporating a broader range of fruits and vegetables in your diet. Even when you hit “peak” performance and condition, there’s another hill to climb so keep climbing.
Goals aren’t just some abstract concept like being “healthier”. They’re measurable, they’re achievable, and they come with plenty of guidelines to help you get there. Once you figure out your goals, the mental side of working for a better body becomes a lot easier.