Goal-setting is the key to progress in all areas of life, not just fitness. But there is a difference between setting goals and actually achieving them.
Joe Marshall of theunlimitedproject.com gives us a detailed breakdown of how to actually set and successfully pursue goals, no matter how "lofty" they may be.
Everyone has dreams and wishes. We all want to obtain certain items, go certain places, or do certain things. The difference is that some of us find ways to make our dreams come true and others don’t. It’s pretty simple.
There are considerable differences between merely making a wish for something, setting a goal, and achieving said lofty goal. Anybody can wish for something. I can wish for a million dollars or a new car or even the ability to do 100 push ups, and all is good and well.
I made the wish, but 99% of the time, nothing will happen. Wishes are hopes for good things to happen. The next step above is to set a goal.
When you set a goal, there are several keys that need to be considered. It needs to be measurable. This means that your goal is definitive and identifiable.
In my case, my goal is to do 100 consecutive push ups. I know exactly what the end result will be and there is no guesswork.
The opposite of this is a goal that is inherently vague and subjective. Some examples of this include be happy, make money, be fit, or do a lot of push ups. What constitutes happiness? How much money? What is fit? What is a lot of push ups?
There is too much wiggle room and leaves you without a final peak to climb for.
Just as important, you can measure and gauge your progress towards the goal. You can tell if you are getting closer or further from the goal. When I started my push up challenge, I did 50 push ups on the initial test.
Today was the start of week 2, and while I have not given a max effort yet, I did 50 push ups easier than I did just one week ago. I can tell that I am progressing towards my goal.
Your goal should also be worthwhile. Make it something that matters. When you pursue something that you find meaningful or purposeful, you will be significantly more likely to follow through and achieve your goal.
My goal of 100 push ups is worthwhile to me for a couple reasons. First, it’s pretty badass to say I can do 100 push ups in a row. Second, it helps improve
my overall strength and fitness, which is important to me. Don’t waste your time on things that don’t matter.
Make an action plan. This is an absolute key! Write down exactly how you will achieve your lofty goal. Create the steps that will lead to your success. This is the key difference between setting your goal and achieving it.
When you create an action plan you eliminate all the guesswork. You don’t have to wonder how you will lose those final 5 pounds or how to run 5 seconds faster.
I have an action plan for my 100 push-ups. I did some research online and came up with a 4 week plan.
It gives me the workouts I need for each training session, and I can see exactly what I need to do each day. As long as I follow my action plan, I will achieve my goal.
However, it can be difficult to accomplish a goal by yourself.
There are a few tactics you can utilize to make goal realization more attainable:
1. Get an accountability partner (or even better, partners)
This may be the biggest key. We hate disappointing others. Get other people to hold you accountable. Have them check in with you regularly. The thought that you will have to tell your friends and family that you gave up is such an awful one that you will continue.
I know this one has definitely worked for me. When I was in New York this summer, I would get up at 6 every morning to go workout (and as anyone who knows me would tell you, I am not a morning person).
The secret? I had a friend who would meet me in the hotel lobby to workout. When that alarm clock rang at 5:50, the last thing I wanted to do was get up and workout.
But I also knew that my friend was down there, and the cruelest thing I could do would be to not show up. So I got up. Announce your plans to the world.
2. Blackmail yourself
has a great post about the the power of losing money and how it will definitely push you through your excuses (he advocates betting your rent).
3. Believe in yourself
This is another key. You have to actually think that you can accomplish the task.
I bring this quote up quite a bit, but it’s so true: Henry Ford said “Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right.”
If you don’t believe that you can truly accomplish something, then you have no shot. Instead, be like The Little Engine That Could and think you can.
4. Kill your excuses
If all else fails, destroy your excuses. My good friends John and Jeremy Ryan from Wedding Crashers put it best (warning, some language):
Wedding Crashers Rule 76: "No excuses. Play like a champion."
I am excited to work toward and conquer my challenge of 100 push ups. By no means will it be easy, but I know that I have the tools, the mindset, and the desire to get it done. What are you waiting for? Go out there, set your goals, and start fulfilling them.
In the words of the great and almighty Yoda, “Do or do not, there is no try.” You have the tools you need, now it’s time for action. Just do it.