How To Set Goals That Work For You

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What is the first thing you think of when it comes to fitness goals? Lose 10 pounds? Be able to bench press a certain weight? Be able to touch your toes? All of these goals have something in common–they are completely out of your control. That sounds crazy, but I mean it. You can do everything right with your diet, work out 4 days a week, stay hydrated, get more sleep, and you still might not lose the amount of weight you want or hit that PR in the weight room. You just can’t control it. There is a science to weight loss and building muscle, but there isn’t a way to guarantee that by doing all the “right” things you will reach that goal.

Okay now that we’ve gotten that depressing reality out of the way, listen up. I’m not trying to bum anybody out so before you click away and feel defeated, let’s talk about how to fix this.

The way to make goals that are within your control is to set intrinsic goals. The goals we talk about above are all extrinsic. They come from the outside and they have factors beyond our control. They’re great to have, but sometimes they don’t happen, even when we are doing everything right.

Intrinsic goals are different. These goals are 100% in your control. You decide whether it happens or not and the scale or the barbell can’t take that away from you. For example, you might not be able to guarantee that you will lose 5 pounds in the next 2 weeks, but you can control whether you will workout 6 times in that same amount of time. Reaching your intrinsic goal may mean that you also hit the extrinsic one, but no matter what it gives you control.

Think about goals that you have achieved in the past–how did you feel when you reached them? Did you feel proud? Happy? Inspired to push yourself to reach new goals? THAT is what I want my clients to feel and that is what intrinsic goal setting can do to change your relationship with fitness.

Today I want to ask you to do one thing–sit down with a piece of paper and write down what your extrinsic goals are. Then, think about what intrinsic goals you could set that would set you up to reach that goal and write those down.

For example, if your extrinsic goal is to lose 10 pounds, your intrinsic ones might be eating 3 servings of veggies a day or going for a walk every day after work. If your extrinsic goal is to deadlift your body weight, your intrinsic goals might be practicing your deadlift at least twice a week, going to bed at the same time each night, or eating a certain amount of protein for muscle recovery every day.

Working out and eating healthy food can be hard enough, why make it harder by having goals that are outside of your control? Taking the time to really reflect on what it will take to be healthier, being realistic about what you are willing and able to do (working out 7 days a week isn’t going to be a good intrinsic goal for most people, but 3 days a week is), and working hard to make yourself proud will create a healthier, happier, and more fulfilled version of yourself in the process. That is a goal I can get behind.

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