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How To Set Yourself Realistic Goals

Updated: Dec 11, 2020

How would you like your life to look three to five years down the road?

You need to think about your future when you consider what goals you want to set yourself today. You might want to get yourself in good physical shape or buy your own home, whatever your vision of a more satisfying future looks like, you will need to set yourself goals to get you there.

How many hours a day do people waste on social media? Adding all that time up amounts to a significant portion of your life and you might want to consider if there are better uses of your time outside of work. When you have something to aim for in your life the type of temptation that might drag you down becomes easier to resist.

Effective Goal setting

Perfectly achieving all of your goals does not matter. The important aspect is setting yourself a vision and giving direction to your life so that you are less anxious and uncertain of what each day and the future holds.

Most people think that setting goals just means picking something you don’t have right now and going for it, but there’s more to it than that. To unlock the power of goal setting, use the following tips:

Goals should be specific and measurable

A good goal can be measured accurately and is specific enough to direct your focus on the change that’s most needed or important to you.

"I want to lose weight" doesn’t really give you anything measurable or specific to work on.

However, "I will lose 15 lbs of body fat" does. It’s specific to one area of improvement (body fat) and it includes a measurable outcome (15 lbs).

Goals should be challenging but realistic

Goals must be big enough to inspire you to action, but not so big that you get frustrated with the impossibility of accomplishing them.

If you’re 80 pounds overweight, setting a goal of being on the cover of a fitness magazine in 6 months time isn’t realistic. But a goal of losing 10 pounds in the next year, while realistic, is too small to be inspiring.

For fat loss, a good rule of thumb is to expect 0.5 to 1 pound of fat loss per week.

Goals should have short-term and long-term components

When setting your goals, make sure you’ve got small goals that are applicable to today, bigger goals that are applicable to next week, bigger goals yet applicable to next month, and the biggest goals applicable to next year.

By setting small day to day tasks, you’ll have achievable markers to tick off on the way to the success of your main goal. It also helps you appreciate the fact that great long term progress feels like it’s happening pretty slowly.

Remember, if you want to drop from 90kg to 70kg at 12% in a year, that means you’ll have to drop about 20kg of body fat in 52 weeks. Over the course of 12 months, that’s about 2kg of fat a month. So be patient!

Frame your goals around behaviors, not just outcomes

Do you know the difference between a behavior and an outcome goal? Well, a behavior goal is based on something you can directly control and do yourself; an outcome goal is based on the end product of a series of behaviors.

Most people set only outcome goals, such as the following:

“I will lose ten pounds in ten weeks.”

“I will make £50,000 next year.”

While these goals are specific and measurable and may be challenging and attainable, one problem is this: they’re outcomes.

And outcomes are often beyond your control.

So how can you pick better goals, goals based on behaviors?

Want to lose ten pounds in ten weeks? Then start by understanding what behaviors you can adopt immediately that’ll lead to this result. Make these your goals. Here are a few examples:

• I will exercise for at least five hours per week.

• I will eat slowly and pay more attention to my intake.

• I will eat vegetables with every meal.

• I will avoid alcohol this week.

And how about the financial thing?

• I will go back to school and get an advanced degree in my field.

• I will spend most of my time on big, high return projects.

• I will improve one aspect of my job performance each day.

• I will duplicate the behaviors of others that are making the amount of money I want to make.

In the end, if you make goals out of behaviors, behaviors you can control, your outcome goals (things like your body composition, salary, etc.) will fall right in line without you having to worry about them.

The PAM Life Stepping Stones goal setting programme is designed to allow you to set your long term goal but also assign achievable tasks that will keep you on course to achieving your goal. Not only this, the tasks are focused on day to day behaviours and choices rather than outcomes, to help you learn the path to success.


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