Goal-Setting Strategies that Work

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Surely we all have set goals. But how often do our goals go unmet? Below, I provide an example and goal-setting strategies that work.

One of my new clients came to me with the almost universal goal to lose weight. She wanted to lose 10 pounds. I asked her how long she had this as a goal. She admitted it was over a year without any real progress. I promptly told her to throw out that goal, as it was a dead goal not worth more energy. But she persisted. She said that she was concerned that she was now getting to the stage in life where weight that once came off easily wasn’t anymore. And she had other health issues she wanted to deal with as well.

So, how did we develop goal-setting strategies that would work?

I said that I wouldn’t work with her on losing weight, but would support her in a bigger goal in which weight loss would be a by-product of that project. For example, she could enter the NY marathon and join a team of people in training to run it. Pretty fair bet she’d lose ten pounds without even thinking about it. Or take ballroom dancing lessons with the goal of entering a competition. Or take yoga teacher training, or become a lumberjack.

I gave her a week to think of a bigger goal that would excite her. She came back empty-handed saying that she couldn’t think of a bigger goal that appealed to her other than improving her general health and fitness. Not very exciting. I suggested that she embark on a program of extreme self care to include things such as working with a nutritionist to design a food plan tailor-made to her needs, working with her life coach (me!), getting a weekly massage, manicure/pedicure, facial, Pilates three times a week, and so on. Now that sounds like much more fun!

She also had to write down her weight every day in a log book and take her average weight loss for the week. She lost one pound the first week. Then she put down “lose two pounds this week” and I had to stop her. She can’t really control whether her body will lose those two pounds this week so that goal had to go. Instead, we put in place the goal to start working out at home. That is something she can promise to do and is one more step in the right direction of extreme self-care.

Be careful to not set yourself up for failure by giving yourself goals that you can’t control. This is key for goal-setting strategies to work.

As a general rule of thumb it isn’t a good idea to set goals for yourself that you can’t control or deliver on. You can’t really promise to lose two pounds this week, but you can promise to exercise every day and start eating the foods on your plan.

On a personal note, I’ve decided to make fitness my own goal and get my body back into shape. As with any current initiative, give it first priority and do it first thing in the morning to ensure it gets done. I was trying to exercise at night, but never felt like it so this was my simple solution. [Note: if you aren’t getting results doing it one way, then try something else.]

Give your special, most important project –whatever that might be at the moment–first priority and do it before you open your emails or check your voice mail and you’ll be amazed at the results.

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