Monday, May 17, 2010

Are You Setting The Right Kind of Goals?

You hear it over and over...the importance of setting goals. And I definitely agree that the right kind of goals can help you get better results.

You've probably read that you should set SMART goals...

* Specific
* Measurable
* Attainable
* Realistic
* Timely

Saying "My goal is to be healthier" is not specific. Saying "My goal is to lower my blood pressure to 110/70" or "My goal is to get off my diabetes medication" is specific.

A body fat percentage is measurable. A dress size is measurable.

You get the idea.

But maybe there's even a better way to set goals.

Performance vs. outcome goals

Sometimes we set goals that we are not totally in control of achieving. If your goal is finishing in the top 10 in your age group in a race or winning a sales contest at work, you don't have complete control over the end result. Those are examples of outcome goals and are, at least partially, in the hands of others.

Outcome goals are good but should be supported with performance goals.

In the above examples, the runner might make a goal of running x number of days/miles per week. She might also want to include interval training or strength training x number of times a week to improve her speed and/or strength.

The salesman could decide to make x number of calls every day to past customers to see if there's anything they could use help with. He might contact previous customers and ask if they'd be willing to talk to potential new customers about the results they've experienced from his service/product.

This also applies to weight loss. You should set a goal of losing x number of pounds or x number of clothing sizes (and then breaking that down to smaller goals) but you should also incorporate performance goals.

Instead of relying solely on the scale which can sometimes be affected by things beyond your control, make some performance goals.

For example, decide that...

* I will exercise x number of times per week.

* Every lifting day, I will strive to increase the number of reps or the amount of weight on at least one exercise.

* I will eat x number of servings of fruits and vegetables each day.

* I will prepare healthy meals for the week on Sunday.

Focus on the things you can change, like your behavior, and the outcome you want will follow.

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