Thursday, June 04, 2009

Mental Principle #1: Start with the end in mind and keep it top of mind

The first step to making any big step or positive change in your life is setting goals that inspire you. Don't be timid with your goal setting but keep them realistic. Goals that are almost scary in their challenge are the type that will drive you to make changes in your thinking and behaviors as well as force you to reach out to others for new knowledge and strategies to accomplish your goals. This is what we are really trying to accomplish as they are the seeds and nurturing of new habits which drive fitness results. Think transformational not incremental for more inspiration, i.e. The Biggest Loser. A check on the inspiration level of your goals is to visualize yourself, not someone else, having achieved the goal and if you have chosen right you'll feel deeply accomplished. If that is looking fit in a bathing suit, finishing a triathlon, or whatever it may be see what reaction you get inside. Embedding an external event or achievement in your goal is also an effective strategy to get yourself in gear, like entering a race event that will require you to get into shape. This is how you get internally motivated.

Now I've seen a lot of goals thrown out there and when written poorly without any follow-up they fall flat. Your goals need to be SMART goals with a staircase to reach them. and the easiest way to do these right is in a workshop or written worksheet like ours, grab it off the goal board or email me for it. SMART stands for:
- Specific - leave no room for interpretation
- Measurable - you must be able to track it
- Actionable - does it drive immediate action
- Realistic - check with someone who knows
- Timely - it's got to have a deadline to move you
With your longer term outcome goal set start working backwards and determine all the smaller step goals along the path to your goal.

The first piece is probably nothing new to you, maybe you even read it as I did in Stephen Covey's "7 Habits of Highly Effective People", but we all need reminders to actually sit down and set goals properly. The second and more powerful piece of the principle is to keep it top of mind. The more we think positively about our step goals the quicker we tend to get them done. Goals are not easy; if they were they would just be called tasks so we need to actively remind ourselves of the higher purpose driving our actions. As humans we have a somewhat limited attention span and physical energy to apply to any pursuit so try to limit your goals to 1-3 current inspirations. A strategy to keep your goals moving forward is to place your goal staircase or some visual reminder of your goal someplace you will see it every day as a reminder that you need to keep thinking about it and taking actions towards the self imposed deadlines you set. I myself use my journal to write my goals out and write the most current ones on a small blackboard in my room. It almost subconsciously effects my daily prioritization. Our feeble will power and confidence need all the regular, positive reinforcement they can get. Lots of things can lead to failure but getting pulled down into the weeds of life and just being lazy about prioritizing is pretty pathetic reason because it is so easily avoided with a little focus.

Finally revisit the goal setting process ideally twice a year because the end goals are likely to evolve as you work towards them. At Fusion we did goals in February so now is the perfect time to revisit them for new summer inspiration and post them to our goal board.

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