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3 Questions to Clarify your Fitness Goal

Last week I described a 4-step process for calibrating your health and fitness goals.

If you aren't feeling confident about your progress or are asking yourself why you wanted to do this in the first place, it's a good idea to consider the revision path. Revising your goal isn't giving up, its about adapting and flexing for success.

Here are 3 questions that can help you hone in on what you want to change.

"What did I really want from this goal?"

This question can help in 3 ways. First, sometimes what we think we want and what we really want is different. Usually a goal involves wanting to solve a problem or achieve something. Let's use the example of losing 20 pounds. Why do you want to lose it? Often we don't ask ourselves enough questions to fully understand why we want the outcome. If we don't understand what we want to solve, we are unlikely to create a good solution or plan. Try the 5 why process to dig down deeper and make sure you're clear on what you really want to see happen. The number 5 isn't really special, it's there to say we need to ask enough why questions to get to the root of the problem or our real why. Most of us don't want to lose 20 pounds just because. There are deeper desires driving us to say that and our goal needs to address those desires.

Second, clarifying your why helps you determine both what steps are important AND if your measuring success in a helpful manner. If that 20 pound goal is really about feeling confident in how you look, you might consider adding coach or mental health professional to your plan to work on the external AND internal elements of confidence. If that 20 pounds is about wanting to be able to move more easily and comfortably to play with your children or grandchildren, there are different steps and other measurements that will determine success better than the scale.

Lastly, this question helps you ditch a goal that you didn't really want. These are the goals you sign up for because someone else is doing it or you think you "should". This one is a trap for me for sure. I've said "I'll do that with you" to show my support more than once only to realize later than I should have just said no.

If you are clear on your why, but rated yourself lower than a 9 on the confidence in your progress scale, ask yourself this question next. For this example, assume you've said your a 6 on the confidence scale.

Why didn't I rate myself lower and what will it take to go from a 6 to a 10?

The first part of the question will help you identify the positive steps you are taking and want to keep in your plan. The second part helps you flush out specific actions and behaviors that are necessary for success. This might be a little bit of an accountability check in with yourself if there are things you know you need to do and your not. You may identify obstacles you didn't see when you started, revise your plan to address those obstacles.

When considering how to got from a 6 to a 10, it can help to imagine you are already at your goal, what is that person feeling? How do they look? What are they doing differently than you are doing now? Those are actions and behaviors to add to your plan.

Be care not to pile on too many things as you'll lose focus. If there is something in your plan that didn't help you get to a 6 and can't get you from a 6 to a 10, stop doing it.

Am I measuring for motivation?

Let's go back to that 20 pounds goal to consider this question. If the only way you measure success is by the scale, you're gonna be disappointed along the way. You will plateau. You will have a big loss and then a gain the next day. In a perfect world, even if you dropped 1 pound per week, that's still 20 weeks from now. There's lots of space for disappointment in 20 weeks. Disappointment can lead to a lack of confidence in our plan and in ourselves.

It is critical to have at least one measure for motivation. Something that can confirm your effort and commitment daily. You do this by measuring one of the behaviors you've identified as important to success. Here are some examples to consider:

  • Tracking your mood before and after your workout;

  • Tracking number of workouts planned vs. completed;

  • Plotting your daily steps;

  • Eating one serving of lean protein with each meal;

  • Adhering to a sleep schedule (getting into and out of bed at times that allow for adequate sleep, the actual amount of sleep we get is not totally in our control);

  • Getting 150 minutes of moderate exercise in a week

Make your motivation measurements visible and don't shoot for perfection. When you think you want to quit, these show you that you can do it and that in fact you have been doing it.

Next steps? Incorporate what you learned about your goal and yourself into your new plan, make your measurements visible and put your next calibration on your calendar. I'll check in again with you here at the end of quarter 2.

Good luck! You got this!


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