6 Strategies for Effective Goal Setting

6-strategies for goal setting

What do you want?  No really what EXACTLY do you want?

Effective goal setting is more than just a wish list.  You’ve got to do better than a haphazard New Year’s resolution that you know deep down you won’t be able to keep.  Today I want to share a few tips with you that will help you to set and more importantly reach your goals.  Now since this is a fitness based site, we are going to point the conversation towards fitness related topics, but remember that the process is the same for ANY goal.  If you want better relationships, more money, a better job, a new home…ANYTHING.  Just apply these 6 simple tips.

Important Disclaimer:

The Program works, IF you work the program! 

No matter how good any one piece of advice might be, it’s completely useless if you do not consistently use it and believe in it.  As with any goal, the fastest way to achieve anything is to show up 100% present, ready, and every single time.  Even a crappy strength program can build you strength over time if you consistently do the program.  With this said, you have to remember 2 major points about setting goals.

  1. They have to mean something to you.
  2. You have to make the time and the effort to see them through.

A road map that you never look at will never get you to your destination even though all the information you need is inside.  A lot of times we know how to reach our goals.  We know what we need to do to get where we want to go.  The big problem is that we don’t have the consistency and the perseverance to see the process through.

Let’s get into the process and let me give you my 6 favorite tips for achieving your goals.  This is by no means an all inclusive list.  It’s just a starting point.  Make sure you spend some time developing your strategies for effective goal setting.  I believe this is a fundamental process and everyone should focus more on setting and achieving effective goals. Here we go!

1. Establish your goal and make it crystal clear!

This might seem like a no brainer, but it is absolutely the most important part of setting any goal.  You must make sure you have a clear objective.  Don’t just have a goal that is floating around in your conscious mind that begins with  the phrase, “man it would be cool if…”  The point of setting an effective goal is to create change and it must be specific and important to you.  I work with a lot of individuals and their goal is to lose weight.  That seems like a good goal right?  You have to follow that up with, how much, how soon, and most importantly why?  These questions are massively important to the success of the goal setting process.  So whenever you create a new goal get specific and follow it up with these 3 main questions:


How much?

How Soon?

From here you can move on to step 2, and use these 3 questions to help you formulate your plan of attack.

2. Write Out Your Goal Card

I’m sure this one with be a challenge for most people, but keep your minds open for me for just a second.  I’m a huge fan of constantly reminding yourself of what your intentions are and what your end game is.  For this step, spend some time and write up your goal onto a small card that can be placed in your wallet or pocket or somewhere you will see it very often.   You can write it out on an index card and cut it into a smaller size or use the back of a business card.  Depending on what your goal is, you can create a new business card of whatever you want to become.  The key is to have fun with it.  The goal card should be written in the present tense as if you are reminding yourself that you’ve already completed the goal.  If it is a monumental goal, don’t worry if you don’t believe it at first.  You can convince yourself of ANYTHING if you try hard enough.  For the example above, your goal card could read something like:

I am so happy and grateful now that I’ve lost 25 pounds in

only 3 months!  I feel great and I am proud of myself! 

By writing this out in the present tense, you can create the feeling of accomplishment every day and also keep your goal in the forefront of your mind.  I’ve taken this a step further recently and in addition to my goal card, I created a daily reminder on my phone that alerts my every morning.  I stop what I am doing, open the reminders app on my phone and read the goal through twice.  If i cannot stop what I’m doing, I’ll use the “snooze” feature and it will remind me again in a few minutes.  Often this is less awkward for people than pulling a card of your pocket and reading it when people are around.  The bottom line here is that this is YOUR goal and it doesn’t really matter what anyone else thinks about it.  Many times people think they are protecting their love ones by questioning them on their goals.  They don’t want to see them get discouraged, or change, or take a step away from their social circle while they work on themselves.  But you are important, and worthy of your goal.  Once your goals have been realized and you set your sights on something new, you can help others through the process.  It’s a win, win! So to sum this step up, protect your goal and your dreams, but make sure they are constantly in your face and you are reminded of them often.

3. Create Images 

Do you know how we think?  It’s pretty simple really, but most people never take time to lay out the process.  The mind thinks in pictures and images and draws upon past knowledge and experience to come to a conclusion.  If I were to ask you to think about a kitchen, what pops up in your mind?  You probably pictured your own kitchen.  If I then asked you to picture your dream kitchen, what would you do?  Would your throw up that same image and remodel your existing kitchen by moving the stove here and the fridge there and give yourself some more counter space?  You start with what your know already, and then visualize the changes you would make.  This step is a lot like that.  You need to take your end goal, the one you wrote on your goal card and create a powerful image in your mind of that very same result.  Remember this is present tense not future, you have to imagine that you have already achieved your goal.  Be specific here and make sure the details are there.  You need to see it clearly and most importantly FEEL it.  Feel happy, proud, healthy, and love yourself for all your hard work and effort!

Find a quiet place at least twice a day and watch a “mental movie” of yourself.  Watch, appreciate, and notice how all of your hard work has paid off and you are presently living in the body of your dreams and doing all of the fun and active things you’ve wanted to do.

For you meat heads out there, this is a great way to prepare yourself for a heaving lifting day and for setting new PR’s.  Take a moment and imagine sitting in a dark theatre with just you and a big screen image of yourself plowing through a big lift with confidence and flawless technique.  When you actually get the bar in your hands, it will feel like you’ve already made your attempt.

4. Challenge Your Paradigms

A paradigm is a collection of habits that your subconscious mind uses to conserve energy and cut down on the excessive decision making process that we make throughout each day.  Habits can serve you well, but they can also be very difficult to change if they are engrained deeply into your subconscious mind.  Think of your paradigms like the auto-pilot feature in an airplane.  It can be very beneficial if it is programmed to reach the correct destination.  If there is a gust of wind, the auto-pilot corrects the position of the wings or the speed or whatever (I actually have not clue how it works) and puts the plane back on course.  Your current auto-pilot (paradigms) might be correcting your your trajectory to keep you on the path you are currently on.  Rather than try to re-program the system and dismantle the entire airplane.  All you really need to do it replace the destination that is programmed into the system.

Whenever you talk about changing habits, it seems like a really daunting task for most people.  Therefore, my suggestion is don’t try to CHANGE any habits, just replace them with better and more powerful paradigms or beliefs.   You may not feel passionate about exercise at first because it directly interferes with your previous paradigm, but if you consistently work towards re-programming the end result and constantly focus on the new you, you’ll develop a new paradigm that will form new habits that will support the result.

You have to believe that you can achieve anything you want.  You have to feel it, believe it, and see it during your visualizations.  If you change the paradigm, the paradigm will automatically change you!

This isn’t to say that the change is instant or that you aren’t going to have to work for it, but it is absolutely necessary to the achievement of any goal.  If you create a new, stronger paradigm that is aligned with your goal and new purpose, that paradigm is going to create new habits that will help you to take steps towards that goal every day.

5. Win Every Day

I would be lying if I told you that everyday you will make a giant stride towards achieving your goal.  Some days you will take a  huge step towards your ultimate goal, but many days a small step if all you need.  If you eat 4-5 small meals a day and you screw one up, just get right back on track for the next one.  Don’t let one small mis-step derail the entire day.  If you want to achieve your goal, you must make progress towards it every day.  The goal card will help you to remember your goal and make sure that you don’t just forget what you’re working towards.  If you are training for strength and you miss a lift, why not try a new exercise variation or something entirely new before you leave the gym?  That way, you’ve got a brand new PR that is guaranteed.  It’s a small win but also a boost in your confidence.

Stay on course and make progress every day.  Small wins add up big!

You have set yourself up to win at a minimum once per day.  At the end of the day, think back on the events of the day and remember the wins, and plan new ways and to win tomorrow.  Forget about the things that might have had a negative effect on the end result, their done and gone.  Focus on the wins!

6. Look for Opportunity and Take Serious Action!

By now your goal is deeply ingrained in everything you are doing.  you’ve created a constant reminder (goal card) you are visualizing your self and feeling like you’ve already completed the goal.  But there’s once more thing you HAVE to do and it’s a biggie.  You’ve got to stay present and look for opportunities that will take you to the end result.  Then, like a puma, you have to pounce on them and take some massive action.

Have you ever been shopping for  car and found one that “nobody has?”  Then as you leave the dealership, you see the exact same car everywhere.  It’s like they all just bought one because you were looking for it.  The truth is, they were always there and most of them had been bought long before you got yours.  There is a part of the brain called the Recticular Activation System or RAS for short.  This is the part of the brain that kind of (in a very basic explanation) filters out the constant stream of data that we are exposed to and shows us only what is consistent with our beliefs and also that could be potentially dangerous for us.  When you felt excited and happy about buying a new car, your RAS identified that same car and allowed it through the filter so that you could see more of them.

As you become more in tune with your goal and focused on the end result, you will have a lot of opportunities to take steps towards achieving it.  Take them!

If your goal was to lose the 25 pounds like we used as our example, you might be invited to compete in a local 5k run or a fun fitness challenge event.  Whether or not you compete in the event consider training for it or at the very least, surround yourself with those who are working hard and focused!  You might find coupons for healthier food items that you thought were too expensive before.  You might see a new water bottle that entices you to drink more water.  Whatever it is, no matter how minor it seems, take any opportunity that you think will help you achieve your goal.  Surround yourself with positive and active people with similar goals and I guarantee there will be no shortage of opportunities!

Let’s be honest, this isn’t the typical topic of conversation here at Grenade Fitness, but it needs to be.  It’s fundamental, its critical, and it is 100% possible for anything to set and achieve their goals.  I believe that the goal setting process is often overlooked by personal trainers, coaches, and teachers.  You have take the time and get clear, assess the current controlling beliefs and habits, constantly remind yourself of what you want, and look for ANY opportunity to get there.

Thanks for reading!  Keep working and always get better!

Coach C

For further education on this topic, I suggest you check out these resources.  These are some affiliate links for Amazon and it helps to support our efforts here at Grenade Fitness.  It’s doesn’t cost you any more to buy through this link!

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