Goals should be outcomes based but behavior focused.
What the heck does that mean?
Outcome based goals center around results. For example, if you wrote down I want to lose 20 pounds you would know when you’ve reached your goal because the scale would tell you that you’re 20 pounds lighter.
Outcome based goals are important but there is one big problem with them – You can’t control them. Your goal might be to lose 20 pounds but you can’t control what the scale is going to tell you. However, you do control the behaviors that might net you that 20-pound loss.
Behavior-based goals are actions that you are in control of. You physically or mentally get to decide whether you will do them or not.
A behavior-based goal might be to do a weight training circuit for a minimum of 30 minutes three days a week. You control whether or not you will actually go do that.
HOW TO SET AWESOME GOALS
Step 1: Is deciding on the outcome that you want. For example, I want to lose 20 pounds.
Step 2: Is to get very specific with your goal. For example, I want to lose 20 pounds in 5 months.
Step 3: Is to make sure that the outcome-based goal that you’ve set is both challenging but realistic. There are a few ways to go about figuring out if you have a challenging but realistic goal.
- Has anyone else accomplished this goal (and kept it up long-term)? If yes, that’s a good sign.
- How confident are you on a scale of 1 to 10 that YOU can accomplish this goal? If you’re at an 8 or 9 that’s a good sign. If you’re less than an 8 make the goal a little easier.
- Does it make you pee your pants a little out of both nervousness and excitement? If yes, that’s a good sign.
Step 4: Is to break your goal into smaller components. So that 20-pound loss in 5 months now translates to 1 pound per week. Very doable but also a challenge.
Step 5: Is deciding on what behaviors you’ll be doing to achieve this goal (you’ll measure these).
- To lose 20 pounds you might decide that you are going to weight train 3 days per week for 60 minutes and do high intensity cardio intervals twice per week, and 1 day of hiking outside every week.
- You may also decide that you are going to only drink zero calorie beverages and swap any grains that you are now eating with fruit or vegetables.
- You may also decide that to measure how hard you’re working during your training you’ll wear a heart rate monitor.
Step 6: Is to decide on how you’re going to be measuring this goal. For losing 20 pounds you might be jumping on a scale once per week, taking girth measurements every 2 weeks, and doing photos and a body fat test every 30 days.
Step 7: Is to establish a short-term and long-term component. Typically the outcome-based goal that you want to achieve is a long-term goal. The behavior-based goals that you’ve set are your short-term goals. One way I like to measure short-term goals is by using the Seinfeld technique.
- Get yourself a 30-day calendar like this one or just print one out off of the Internet.
- Each day that you practice your behavior goals you’ll draw a red line through that day. If you don’t practice your behavior goals you will not draw a red line.
- It’s human psychology to not want to break the chain. Once you get a few redlines in a row seeing a blank space will drive you crazy! You won’t want to see too many of them let along two in a row.
Step 8: Is to evaluate and adjust. Because you’ll be measuring your progress you’ll be able to know what is working and what is not working. If you’re not making progress take a look at your 30-day calendar – how consistent have you been with your behavior-based goals?
- If there are not a bunch of blank spaces (90% consistency) then you may need to make some adjustments to your current plan.
- If you see a bunch of blank spaces (less than 90% consistency) then focus on being more consistent. Think of ways you can make those behaviors easier to do. Skipping workouts because you’ve been watching TV? Cancel cable. You haven’t been preparing healthy meals? Maybe you need to start cooking all your meals for the week on Sunday.
If you’re having a tough time achieving the goals that you’ve set for yourself identify any limiting factors that may be inhibiting your progress. These would be things that you find are making it difficult for you to consistently practice the behaviors you’ve identified as important for achieving your goal.
- Happy hours with coworkers?
- A certain group of friends that make it difficult for you to stay on track?
- Responsibilities and tasks keep piling up?
Now honestly assess if you want it bad enough? Have you created time for you health? Are you making it a priority? Do you keep taking on new things and overloading yourself and schedule?
WHAT YOU CAN YOU DO RIGHT NOW
This is the part where you DO SOMETHING. Do not move on, do not pass go, and do not keep reading until you have taken these action steps.
Download the behavior goal worksheet to help you get clear on your one big goal and the behaviors you’ll need to practice to get there.
If you take anything away from this lesson it should be this. REWARD your actions and not your results. Results are out of your control but what you decide to do everyday is in your hands.
Remembering you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart. -Steve Jobs
What’s one big fitness goal that you have and what are some of the behaviors you can control to help you reach it? Share in the comments below.