Seeing as I’ve set up this new blog, I figured I might as well share my goal setting process with this goal. When I hear from most authors about setting goals they usually describe the process and give some hypothetical examples, but then I never hear about the goals that they set themselves. This blog entry will go over my own steps to set a new goal for myself, and I will outline the steps I’ve taken.
I did my weekly review today and I decided to set a new goal for exercise. While I generally get around four hours of exercise a week, I have been dissatisfied with the level of regularity and consistency I have with it. I would really like to improve my level of health and fitness and set a habit to make exercise automatic, so I don’t have to pull myself to the gym. Instead of exercising a bit here and there I will exercise for an hour every day.
My first step, beyond identifying what goal I wanted to set, was to come up with my whys for pursuing the goal. By creating a comprehensive and strong list here I can be sure that I will not give up when things get difficult.
Why I want to exercise more regularly:
1) Improve energy. Regular exercise will greatly improve my energy levels which will allow me to be more effective at work and give me more energy to spend in my own life. By increasing my energy I can reinvest this back into other goals. By investing in regular exercise I expect that it will give long term rewards that will easily compensate for the time it requires.
2) Improved health. Regular exercise will make me healthier, decreasing my chances of getting sick or suffering illnesses. Exercise if established will undoubtedly provide long-range health benefits. Exercise will likely increase my lifespan and allow me to be more physically capable longer into my life. By making this investment early I can reduce the chances of potential health problems later.
3) A better body. Attractiveness is an important motivator. While I think our culture places too much emphasis on pursuing this goal, that doesn’t mean it is an unworthy goal in the first place. Being healthy, fit and muscular makes you look stronger and more attractive. This personal sense of attractiveness can really boost your confidence. Which brings me to…
4) Improved confidence. Being healthier and more attractive undoubtedly improves self-confidence and your self image. Confidence is a critically important asset as it forms a foundation for all the goals you set. In this way, I believe regular exercise will help increase my self-confidence.
5) Overall fitness level. By exercising, I will improve my endurance and strength. This can have significant advantages in performing any physical task. It will also allow me to enjoy tasks more that have a physical component.
6) Flexibility. Stretching and flexibility work can allow me a greater range of motion which will improve posture and reduce joint problems. Greater flexibility also reduces the chances for injuries.
7) Long Term Goals. I currently have some three to five year fitness oriented goals that would benefit greatly from an increase in exercise. Running a marathon is one of these goals, and increasing the regularity of my exercising is important to that.
Now that I have a really compelling list of reasons why, I am going to refine the goal down into more objective terms in writing.
My Goal: For the next 30 days I will exercise for one hour a day, every day. I will spend four of those days doing anaerobic exercise (strength training) and three of those days on aerobic activities. I will spend 10 minutes of each exercise period stretching to improve my flexibility.
You may have noticed I included that this was for the next 30 days. This type of trial for setting habits is important. You see, if I hadn’t included this condition, then I would fail if I didn’t include an hour of exercise every day for my entire life! By making sure that I keep it for the next 30 days, I can form the habit of exercising regularly. After those 30 days, the habit should be formed so that I won’t risk sliding back into my old state if I am forced to miss a day.
If you want to know more about 30 day trials you should check out this article by Steve Pavlina.
Some people say 21 days is the amount of time necessary to instill a habit, but I make it an entire month just to be on the safe side.
The next step is to formulate a strategy. I wrote quite a comprehensive plan for how I was going to go about exercising these next thirty days, so I’ll spare you the details. But the strategy is important. In my strategy I wrote down what kind of exercise I would be doing, and a list of activities I consider to fit into within each category.
The final step is to take action. I am setting this goal to start tomorrow, so my first action was to set the time I would be exercising tomorrow.
So there you have it. The basic process of setting a goal and the goal I have set. I skimmed over a lot of the specific details because they deserve more elaboration in separate posts.
I make setting each new goal a fun experience. Too often people set goals as if they are bracing themselves for hardship. When you have that attitude why set the goal? I take the goal setting process like a kid writing a list to Santa. I find it fun to look over what areas of my life I could improve and then picking what I will work on now.
If you aren’t already setting some goals, you now know how. So go do it right now!