How to Set Great Goals and Move More

(Easy Steps to Motivate Yourself and Have Fun While Getting Things Done)

 

How many times have you made a promise to yourself that you’ll start exercising more? You might have even bought a gym membership. You started going. But after the initial spike in motivation, the visits became less and less regular. Does that sound familiar?

When it comes to physical exercise, we often start looking for excuses not to do it. As a result, a mild but despondent self-loathing settles in.

So, how do we set goals around our physical fitness that keep?

Today, I share some straightforward strategies and science-backed tips that will help you increase your fitness and well-being.

 

  1. Break it Down

We must see goals as a part of our life plan broken down into smaller segments. When you look at the bigger picture, the task might seem overwhelming. But when you divide it into smaller steps and do the task at hand, it becomes achievable. For instance, the goal of running a marathon might initially be slightly farfetched (especially if at the moment you feel your heart is going to burst and your lungs explode after just running for the bus). You need to break it into smaller, achievable steps. For example, I’ll go running every night for 2 miles, three days a week. When you achieve that, you upgrade to the next level. But you never lose sight of the big dream – completing a marathon.

 

  1. Keep it to Yourself

Many people think that announcing your goals to others can make you feel more accountable and, therefore, more likely to stick to them. However, research shows that if we talk about goals, our minds get tricked and perceive the goal as already reached, thus sapping our motivation. It’s nothing wrong if you want to share your goal with a friend or two, but it’s better not to go public with it (e.g., posting it on social media, telling everyone at work). Reach your goal first, then announce it to the world.

 

  1. Have a Goal Buddy

Find somebody who also wants to work out and join forces. He or she can be your goal buddy. The two of you can meet up, have a drink, and vow to support each other with your aspirations. For example, you can go jogging together, meet at the gym, go for a walk during lunchtime. Also, if you feel like stopping with your goal, this should be the person you can call for some inspiration and support. We all have a bad day when it’s easy to resort to old habits. So, it’s good to know there’s somebody who has your back and you can turn to for motivation.

 

  1. Make Your Goals Smart

Write your goals down. Even better, keep a goal diary. Put a date next to each goal so that you can track your progress. Own your advancement! You can be a bit scientific about your goals and make them SMART:

  • Specific
  • Measurable 
  • Actionable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound Don’t be vague. Say, for example, I’ll engage in 30 min of physical activity every day for the next 7 days.  

 

  1. Be Realistic

Don’t include too many things on your list. A large list will only distract you and disperse your attention. Decide on one or two goals that are meaningful to you and focus on these. Also, allow for some adjustments. If you see the goal is too hard or too easy or doesn’t match your skills, change it. It’s better to move for 20 minutes a day than not to move at all.

 

  1. Reward Yourself

Research shows that rewards can help us stick to our long-term goals. When deciding on your goals, prepare some small gifts you will be able to claim if you stick to them. Wrap some treats and put them away or write yourself neat vouchers for things you enjoy, such as a voucher for the cinema or a new novel. It’s more likely you’ll go for an evening jog if you know there’s a small reward waiting for you back home. We all sometimes need a little pat on the back.

 

Sources

Gollwitzer, P. M., Sheeran, P., Michalski, V., & Seifert, A. E. (2009). When Intentions Go Public: Does Social Reality Widen the Intention-Behavior Gap?. Psychological Science, (5), 612-618.

Woolley, K., & Fishbach, A. (2016). For the Fun of It: Harnessing Immediate Rewards to Increase Persistence in Long-Term Goals. Journal of Consumer Research, 42(6), 952-966.

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