Goals are the tools we use to build the life we dream of.
There is benefit to setting both short-term and long-term goals. I think it's important to dream of big, huge things you'd love to accomplish in your lifetime and it's also important to be realistic and set goals that are attainable in the near-ish future to keep the momentum and belief in yourself.
Every year I set a ton of goals for myself in several different categories including fitness, nutrition, personal life and career and every year I hardly accomplish any of them. This is because the goals I set generally are OUTCOME-BASED - I only consider what I want to accomplish. As I've learned, this is not effective. It's only half of the goal-setting process. How will I accomplish my goals?
First, let's talk about a couple different strategies on goal setting.
Process Vs. Outcome Goals
The most simplistic way to look at goals is via Outcome Goals and Process Goals.
Outcome Goal: the end result of a behavior, usually about winning or losing.
Process Goal: a goal that specifies the process the individual wants to engage in to perform in a satisfactory manner.
Basically, Outcome Goals are about what you want to accomplish and Process Goals are about the behaviors and habits you need to adhere to in order to reach the end goal.
Outcome Goal: I want to hit a new PR (200lbs) on my squat.
Process Goals: I will hit my protein target every day. I will practice squatting 3 times each week. I will follow a well-designed program, so I know the reps, sets, and intensity to perform my squats and other exercises to maximize my strength.
Both types of goals are necessary; it's important to envision the end goal and equally as vital are the actions that must be taken to get there. Remember, a goal without a plan of action is just a wish, so setting Outcome Goals alone without a plan on how you're going to accomplish said goal is not an effective strategy.
You might have heard of SMART goals. SMART is an anonym for:
Specific (what exactly will you accomplish)
Measurable (using metrics to evaluate progress)
Achievable (realistic to accomplish, within your scope)
Relevant (has importance and improves your life in some way)
Time-Bound (has a deadline/timeframe)
Example: I will prioritize weight training 3x a week for 12 weeks to improve my health and strength by being consistent with a periodized exercise program.
These are all important to keep in mind when setting effective goals because without these constraints, you haven't really thought about how to reach your goals, but rather just what you want to accomplish. It's like reading a self-help book and expecting your consumption of words alone to change your life when in reality, you need to implement what you learn into your daily life in order to see a change.
Here are the things I am important things to keep in mind when setting goals.
Have a mixture of both long-term and short-term goals. This can look like separate goals all together or it can look like having a big end goal and small mile markers along to way to ensure you're on track.
Know the actions you need to take to accomplish your goal. A goal without a plan of how to get there is just a dream. You won't reach your goal by accident.
Focus on daily habits. Consistent, small habits add up to sustainable change over time. Huge, radical changes may get you to your end goal quickly, but will you be able to live there or will you revert back to your old ways?
Manage your expectations. If you don't do this, then setting long-term goals and writing down your dreams may be detrimental to your success. You may begin to feel like a failure and use those feelings as a excuse to give up on all goals completely, losing any momentum you had built up.
Review your goals frequently. At least weekly, review all the goals you've set for yourself so they're always fresh in your mind. Set intentions for each day/week that prioritizes behaviors that need to be taken to help you along.
Know that adjusting goals is part of the process. You're not a failure if you need to adjust your goals. Sometimes circumstances change, priorities change, and even what is best for you changes.
It's okay if you don't know how to reach a goal yet, but still write that sh*t down year after year until the path there becomes clearer and more realistic. Continue to learn and evolve and manifest that dream of yours (of course managing your expectations along the way).
A great rule of thumb to live by is to never let a day go by where you’re not moving closer to your goals. Time is precious so each and every day should be utilized to its fullest potential. Make it a habit to go to bed satisfied with the strides you’ve made in the past 24 hours. (NOTE: sometimes productivity can look like rest and relaxation, we don't always have to be "productive".)
Remember, you are the architect of your own life. Everything that you do or don’t accomplish is the result of your own actions. If you are willing to build on and improve yourself and work systematically every single day towards your goals, you will experience change and create an exceptional life.