Goal Setting for Fitness Success

Goal setting is one of those things that we all know we should do but often struggle doing.  I believe that the main reason for this is because people don’t have a process to follow for setting their goals. It’s also a skill to develop, just like kicking a ball or learning a new language.  Problem is, we expect to know how, and more importantly be good at, setting goals. That’s not how it works. Just like anything else, it takes reps with goal setting to get good at goal setting. Realize that if you’ve never set goals, you’ll likely need to take multiple cracks at it before you dial it in. So, be patient and trust the process

When it comes to goal setting, you’ll need a process with which to practice. Here’s a quick, and easy to follow “how to” guide for setting goals in 2023. It teaches you exactly what to do.

1 – Brain Dumping and Free Writing

This first step helps you gather the raw materials needed to craft your goals. Start by breaking the important aspects of your life into categories and list them in a notebook. For example, you could list career, family, finances, fitness. Then, start writing the first things that come to mind in each category, and don’t censor yourself. While writing, keep the lists for all of the categories in front of you. Inevitably, an idea in one category will spur an idea for another. It also helps to set a timer so that the session has bookends. Fifteen to 30 minutes per session works.

Do this over multiple sessions. Review what you wrote last time at the start of each session. It’ll help spur more ideas.

2 – Filter Your Ideas

Once the ideas are on paper, we begin the narrowing process. We’ll use different filters to narrow ideas into goals.

Start by thinking about who you want to be at the end of 2023. 

What does that person look like? 

What qualities do they embody? 

What have they accomplished? 

How are they seen by others?

These questions will help you determine what is currently most valuable to you. Write the answers down; read them several times; think about what the answers tell you about yourself, what’s meaningful to you right now, and what you currently value most.

Once you have those answers, filter your goal ideas through them. Keep the ideas that are congruent with your “self-vision” and your values. Discard the ones that aren’t congruent. 

Your list will narrow, but it will still be big. You’ll need to do more work to chop it down.

3 – Prioritize

Okay, here’s where the process can get a little spicy. It’s time to filter through your list and narrow down your ideas to the one or two most meaningful for each category.  Ask yourself this question, “What one to two ideas will help me make the most efficient progress towards my ideal ‘self-vision’ this year?” 

Having goals is a good thing. But it’s one of those good things that you can have too much of. Too many goals spreads your focus too thin and often causes paralysis by analysis. You also only have so much time and can only take so much meaningful action.

Take your time here and be honest with yourself. Rushing this process and telling yourself a nice story just so you can get it done will get you nowhere.

Once you’ve read, re-read, considered, and thought critically, write down the one or two most meaningful goals for each category.

4 – Set Priorities

Once you have your goals listed under each category, consider your priorities. Where does your life need the most attention in 2023?

The best way to answer this question is by a little self-reflection on 2022 and considering where you did the best and did the poorest. Do you need to dump gas on the fire of where you did the best? Or do you really need to do the work to break up your weak points? 

Be honest with yourself when answering these questions because at the end of the day, “garbage in, garbage out.”  If you are not fully truthful with yourself you will only set yourself up for failure.

Once you have your answers, review your goals and set your priorities. You should be able to see which areas of your life take precedence over the others. You should also be able to see if there are any goals that if completed first will help you to complete the other goals.

Now, rank your goals in order of importance.

5 – Make an Action Plan

All goals live in the land of nice ideas until you do something about them. You MUST take meaningful action everyday. And meaningful action everyday requires structure.

Answer the following questions to create your 2023 goals action plan:

What actions must you take to achieve the goal?

When will you take these actions? (Daily, weekly, time of day, etc.)

Where will you take action? (Home, work, gym, kitchen, etc.)

Who will you need help from?

What obstacles could get in the way of you taking action?

What will you do to overcome or circumvent those obstacles?

Create an action plan for each of your goals.

6 – Keep a Notebook

Your goals and their subsequent action plans need a home. There is power in getting your goals and their action plans out of your head and on paper. So, keep a notebook or a running document on your computer or phone. It should include all of the work that we’ve described up to now, as well as progress notes from regularly scheduled reviews.

Check in with your notebook often so that your goals, and the action towards achieving them, stay top of mind. Some folks prefer to check in daily, and others prefer weekly. Experiment with a schedule that works for you and stick to it.

Remember, your goals must be meaningful and actionable, or they aren’t goals. Follow this process over the next few weeks and you’ll have goals to start with for 2023. Don’t, however, be afraid to edit, update, and change your goals as the year progresses. That’s not a license to ditch on your meaningful goals when the work gets hard. But it is permission to review your goals and make sure that they’re still in-line with your 2023 vision and values. Stay engaged with and keep taking action. Even if your goals morph and change throughout the year, you’ll be much farther down the path just for sticking with the process.

Talk soon,

Andrew