In The Words of Oprah, "Everyone Gets a Goal!": Goal Setting For The New Year
What Hispanic Soccer Taught Me About Goals
Have you ever watched soccer with Hispanic commentators? One of the things I love about them, aside from the fact that they speak a million words a minute, is that when an important thing occurs, namely a goal, is that they get SOOOO excited about it that they SCREAM & repeat, "GOOOOOOOAL" for a solid minute or until they run out of breath.
Considering this season of goals, I wondered how the majority of us feel about goals; if we feel about them the same way as Latin soccer commentators, or if we feel as enthusiastic about goals as Ferris Bueller's teacher in calling for class attendance.
Why Do We Need To Set Goals?
The question of why has been one that has always been captivating for me, as with any other of the 4 W's or "how" questions can technically be answered in one word. Why questions are open ended questions which easily lead into greater depth of thought, contemplation and other thought provoking processes.
So, why set goals? I think I can safely say that we all have visions, dreams, goals and wishes. When the measurement of productivity comes around, however, goals play a huge role in obtaining that which we just consider in our minds. We HAVE to write our goals down! Furthermore, if we wish to be more productive overall, it helps to have visual aids and reminders around us as opposed to solely depending on our minds. Have you ever gone on FaceBook, or browsed the internet or talked with your friends and fam jam and saw or heard something that peaked your interest and thought, "hmm, I should write that down.....nah, I'll still remember it tomorrow."? Well, tell me, 98% of the time, what happened to that incredibly interesting thought of yours when tomorrow rolled through? You, forgot?! What?! haha And this is the mind you entrust your deepest yearnings and aspirations with?
You have to write your goals down.
I watched a video the other day concerning some myths and facts about goal setting. One of the facts that the speaker talked of, was how a mere 3% of the population actually writes down their goals AND plans out how they are going to achieve them. This 3% has now empowered themselves to achieving, on average, 10 times more than anyone from the other 97% of the population! TEN TIMES!!!
This only becomes increasingly important as we start talking about this in fitness terms, I mean, if we take a look at a person who arbitrarily works out, or does random exercises in comparison with one who not only plans out their workouts, but their meals, time, and...well, life, the results are indeed far more favourable for the he who plans.
Where Do You Stand?
You generally transition rather quickly from a pre-contemplative state, to a contemplative state, in can literally happen within minutes. For example, if someone goes to the doctor and they are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, they instantly contemplate changing their eating and exercising lifestyle.
Preparation: This is where you do your research, brainstorming and planning for change.
Action: This is where you are following through with your plan, and allowing flexibility of said plan. This phase last 6 months.
Maintenance: You've past the 6 month mark and this is now a habit of yours, though perhaps not yet a way of life. But you have seen results and are continuing to maintain them. At this point you may still relapse.
Transition: It is now a part of who you are and you would feel very uncomfortable without this in your life.
Methods of Goal Setting For the New Year
The following are just a few methods I have used in the past or currently use, that have helped me accomplish goals in my life.
I recently heard this method from a friend of mine, and rather enjoyed his presentation on the GROW acronym for goal setting.
Goal: What is it you really desire? Question that desire to 5 levels of depth, by asking why, and then look at what your goal should really be.
Reality: Let's say your goal is to weigh, a lean 160 lbs with 10% body fat. Your reality, right now, is that you are weighing in at 185 lbs, at 22% body fat. You have injuries in the your rotator cuff and low back issues. This is what you have to work with.
Options: This where you brainstorm, and come up with as many options as possible. You have some weights a home to work with, a heavy bag, or you can get a gym membership and try and learn from fit looking people at the gym, maybe you have some extra cash at hand and would prefer to have a trained and qualified personal trainer, that fits and specializes in your needs, and would rather pay him as a professional to teach you what you need to know to become self sufficient in continuing and maintaining your goal, or maybe you would rather just get post secondary education in the ordeal.
Way Forward: Once you have your options down, it's time to pick which best suites you and buckle down and get to work and plan the specifics and follow through. Always plan for your own personal weaknesses.
The SMART acronym in goal setting is one of the most universally known methods for goal setting, if you haven't heard of it, allow me to introduce you to it.
Specific: I want to lose 10 lbs, is not specific enough. Losing 10 lbs of body fat, and reaching 13% body fat while gaining 5 lbs of muscle mass, reducing processed foods ingested and losing other bad eating habits, is a much more specific goal (a bit of an exaggeration on specifics, but you get the point).
Measurable: Body fat callipers, measuring tape, bioelectrical impedance machines, spreadsheets of progress made and paying close attention to how you feel about yourself are all great tools to measure your progress, not just a scale.
Action/Achievable/Attainable: Is this attainable under your current circumstances? If so, what will be your action plan? Hitting the gym 4 times a week, hiring a personal trainer to help gauge and report your progress too, along with a more in depth plan is an awesome follow through step.
Realistic: Now, how realistic is this goal? You have 5 kids, a working wife, and a dog to take care of, BUT you are a morning person and find that you always waste a solid 30 minutes every morning on FaceBook. Totally realistic goal IF you make some sacrifices.
Time: You have 10 lbs of fat to lose and 5 of muscle to gain. 1-2 lbs a week for loss is a healthy rate, so, let's shoot for 8 weeks time, but plan some wiggle room for up to 11 weeks because Thanksgiving may throw me back a week.
Bing, Bang, Boom. That is a goal well set.
When preparing and planning goals for the new year, I like to look around the net and find inspiration from others in how they plan or what works for them. I came across this gem of a video on goals and loved it right from the get go.
Awesome video, hey?
I go through exactly what he talks about with clients who come to me for weight loss. Of course, what I am about to say does not apply to all looking at weight loss in the new year; Athletes looking to lose weight, for example, need to look at things a little bit differently.
So, I will ask clients what their goals are with me, and some will say, I want to lose 15 lbs, for example. There's no time limit, no real specificity to it, and the only form of measurement that they know for this, is the weight scale. Most times, this is a very superficial goal, there are underlying aspects or things directly related to the goal that they think will come when they drop the weight. I could talk about this for days. So, some people want to lose that weight because internally they feel that if they do, they will naturally become like their 18 year old high school track & field athlete, or cheerleader and feel like they did back then. That they will have the energy, the stamina, that they will have confidence they once had. The attitudes, behaviours, and habits are what they are really looking for, and they have simply associated that weight loss with those attributes.
So now if they were to just imagine, that they already lost that weight, and worked on the habits, they could weigh and look the same, but all of a sudden feel 100% better! Stress, ladies and gentlemen is one of the leading causes of weight gain; stress of not being who you were, who you thought you would be, where you want to be, with who you want to be with.
So, set your goals, and then act like you have already achieved them. Muhammad Ali was a great example of this as he always called himself the Greatest, to the point where he truly believed it where no one else did prior to his becoming a world champion. He had a vision of a world champion being a man of character, good judgement, strong work ethic, being a true people's champion in the rough and the good times. That is exactly how he acted from before he won his first belt and because of it, he changed the world.
I've Got My Goals, What Now?
Types of Work
I had the opportunity of serving an incredible 2 year mission for my church in Hungary from the age of 19-21. When I was assigned, I had no concept of anything about the country except for its whereabouts in Europe. One of the things I needed to do while there, was learn the language. According to a number of linguistic societies, Hungarian constantly ranks top 5 if not, top 3 hardest languages to learn and speak. I knew what I was signing up for when I knew I may be asked to learn a language. Amidst the challenge of learning the crazy awesomeness of the language. I learned 3 aspects of achieving your goals via work ethic.
Work Hard: We were assigned a companion to work with, 24/7 (no joke, only time you can leave eyesight of your companion/colleague is for bathroom breaks and showering). My first companion I worked with in Hungary was from Germany. With him I learned that in order for me to achieve my goal of learning the language and to speak it like a native Hungarian, I had to work hard. I remember, I would walk up to Hungarians introduce myself, and then sit there dumbfounded at whatever they answered back. But I never gave up on trying to keep a conversation going. They never failed to be astounded that someone aside from a Hungarian baby would dare try and learn their language. So, I quickly learned to ask them to repeat their responses in Hungarian while my companion who had been there nearly 2 years and was completely fluent in the language, would just sit and giggle to himself while I struggle my way through a simple greeting. I worked hard and forgot what a comfort zone was. I embarrassed myself time and time again in messing up words and end up cussing. A missionary cussing his face off, that's worthy of a good laugh, right? haha
Work Smart: My second companion I worked with was from the states and struggled with the language. So, I quickly figured that I would need to work smart in learning the language. I had gained the behaviours necessary for staying out of my comfort zone, talking and trying to think an breathe in Hungarian, but now I needed to really set up a better plan of action now that I had the work ethic required. So, I set up a better plan for learning the language. I needed to be able to gain the trust of Hungarians very quickly, so I could help them and vice versa. I filled notebooks with words, I would memorize a set number of words to add to my passive vocab, and the following day I would use them to try and implement them into my active vocabulary. I would take my scriptures and read them out loud in Hungarian first, to strain my mind to understand, while working on the accent, and then in English to confirm what I had understood. I found and tried a million methods to learning the language proficiently to my learning styles.
Work Focused: The third companion I had, was from Bulgaria and boy, was he ever high energy. My first companion was fluent in German and English and learned Hungarian on his mission, my second companion knew english prior to his mission, and my third companion, well, he knew a whopping 10 languages fluently when I was assigned to work with him in Budapest, Hungary's capital. He is a linguist, as you can imagine. So not only did he speak Hungarian better than I did at the time (I had only been out for 6 months and he had been out 18 months), but he spoke Spanish and English better than I did as well. With him, our first day together, we spoke and got to know each other in Spanish, and right before we ended our days work, he said, "As of tomorrow, we will ONLY speak in Hungarian. I have seen the blessings of working in the language of the people around us, and you will too." I worked with him 3 months time, and boy, did I really explode in my language abilities and I attribute it to his stubbornness and in working focused. I had to focus ALL my attention to everything he said, ALL the time on top of working with the Hungarians. It was incredibly draining, yet, incredibly rewarding as I saw how my language ability sky rocketed compared to others who had come with me around the same time.
Just to drive my point home of how well I learned Hungarian. The Hungarian word in the following picture is spelt wrong. Guess the creator of the pic isn't as Hungarian as he thinks he is, huh?
Proper spelling: Megszentségteleníthetetlenségeskedéseitekért
Challenge: Find the mistake, send me an email with where it is and I'll give you a free 30 minute session.
Did you ever make any dumb mistakes when you were a teen? Well, I'm willing to bet, that a good chunk of the bigger mistakes made, were caused because of the atmosphere you found yourself surrounded in. Atmospheres play a huge role in what we do and who we are, they are not 100% restricting, but nevertheless, have a good pull of influence, if not on our actions, at least on our thoughts. So, now that you have your goals it's time to weed out your self-talk, the people and things that bring you down from your potential. Control your mind and atmosphere, and you control your life.
In short, find a person that will keep up with your goals and keep you accountable to them, whether it be your mom, your friend, or a personal trainer....like me!
In conclusion, figure out where you stand, what direction you wish to go in the new year, plan specific goals and make a feasible plan to follow through, work hard, smart and focused, create a positive atmosphere, and find someone to be accountable to and watch as you become 10 times more productive than your average joe!
Happy New Years!