Motivation: Set Realistic Goals

We’re continuing our Motivation May series with a talk about setting goals! This might be the most important aspect of maintaining motivation, but I’m not sure what I’m writing about next week yet, so I could be wrong. 😉

Motivation MayOne of the goals most of us have, myself included, is a goal weight. We have this number in our head that we’d like to see on the scale. Or a size we’d like to fit into. Those “skinny jeans” hidden in the closet that are hopelessly out of style, but that you’d like to fit into again. Yeah, I have some, too. Last week we talked about intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Weight loss falls to the extrinsic side, which means you actually don’t have complete control over it. So, while it’s fine to have a goal weight, and it might keep you motivated to get to that number, I’d like us to focus on goals we have more control over.

I choose what food to put in my body. I choose how much I’m going to exercise. I do not choose how fast my body decides to change shape or drop pounds. I know all the magazines you see in the check-out aisle tell you you only need to use more calories than you consume to drop weight, but it doesn’t always work. Our bodies are more complex and other issues can interfere with weight loss. When we don’t see that “magic number” on the scale, it’s easy to feel defeated and give up. We don’t want you to give up, so let’s pick good goals.

Here’s our model for goal setting: 1.) Pick something you can control, and 2.) Make it realistic — small steps!

So, what are things you can control? What you eat. What you do with your body. How often you do those things. Goals like eating five vegetables a day, lifting weights three times a week and learning how to box are all choices you can make. What is it you want to do? Lift weights, spin class, run, eat better? Pick one and turn it into a goal.

Next, how do we make our goals realistic? Set big and small goals. Pick a big goal and then break it down into bite-sized pieces that you can chew more easily. The big goal gives you a story to enter into (see a post Find Your Story), and the smaller steps to that goal keep you from burning yourself out too fast (see my post Learning to Run). Meeting the smaller goals help keep us motivated, because we’re getting a victory! Starting small helps us build momentum to keep going. (See my post Progress, Not Perfection.)

Another way to keep a goal realistic is to give it a deadline or some sort of time frame. I’ve helped my eating by avoiding sugar for 30 days or maybe you joined the Drop the Pop challenge. Deadlines or ending dates to a challenge give us something to strive for. You’re not giving up sugar or pop forever (well, maybe you are) but you can do it for one week or one month. Start small, remember.

Once you’ve reached a goal, give yourself a reward! Celebrate your victory! Take pride in what you have accomplished, even if that  number on the scale has not moved. It will, in time. Focus on what you have achieved and what you have already changed.

I think it’s sometimes easiest to use a plan someone else has come up with. I started with the Couch to 5K running program. Jessica has used some weight lifting plans that have various phases. Jessica has put together some workouts you can follow! The benefit to these is it’s all mapped out for you. You start the program and just do the next thing on the list. And, if you fall off the wagon and get off track with your goal, you’ve got a program to jump back into.

I’ve mentioned before that I’m doing the Warrior Dash in September with Jessica. It’s my big goal. To get to that goal I need to be able to run a 5K, so I’m starting the Couch to 5K program over again after Memorial Day. And I need to increase my upper body strength. I’m still figuring out what I need to do about that. Jessica mentioned on Facebook last week that she’s interested in doing a strongwoman competition. That’s a big goal! She’ll have to break it down into smaller steps to train for that type of competition. It should keep her motivated! 🙂

What about you? What goals do you have? And how can you break them down into smaller goals? Let us know so we can cheer you on!

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3 thoughts on “Motivation: Set Realistic Goals

  1. Pingback: Motivation: Fail Forward | The Journey

  2. Pingback: Keeping Score | The Journey

  3. Pingback: Motivational May | The Journey

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