In my article Goal Characteristics For Success I talked about the science behind goal characteristics when setting goals thus maximizing the chances of your goals leading to the necessary actions to complete them. But how can you bridge the performance or weight loss goals with the direct actions needed? In this manual I’ll show you how to link the wanted outcome to the actions needed – by making the actions the goals themselves.
The Goal Setting Procedure
1. Identify Point B
This is the ordinary goal setting process you see everywhere. When you set your goals make sure to follow the characteristics I outlined I my article on Goal Characteristics The goal needs to be specific, difficult yet attainable and proximal.
Client X wants to “lose weight and gain strength”. After setting long-term goals and dividing them into short term (proximal) goals we state his goals the following way: Weight 95 kilos by June 1st while squatting 85 kilos and performing 10 strict chin ups.
2. Identify Point A (assessment)
Where – related to Point B – are you this very moment? The importance of an assessments cannot be underlined enough because it shows the effort needed to complete the task in the given time period which serves as an important motivational factor.
Client X: current stats: 100 kg, 80 kg squat, 8 chin-ups.
This is the classic performance based goal setting strategy used a lot. I’ve found thought that just setting goals do not always lead to the necessary actions needed to actually get to Point B. That’s why I’ve come up with a system to bridge the performance goals with actual action goals.
3. Identify the factors needed to be in place for you to get to point A to point B in the given timeframe.
This can be different depending on your goals but often the five important categories are Training intensity and programming, Recovery, Nutrition, Knowledge and Motivation.
Back to Client X: Factors that needs to be met to maximize the chances of me reaching my goals: I need to be in calorie deficit to drop body weight. My Training needs to be very intense since I only have 4 weeks to increase my squat by 5 kg and add 2 reps to my chin-ups. My recovery will be hampered because of the deficit so I need to maximize that. My biggest obstacle though is to make sure I stay motivated through the process. So factors that need to be met: Calorie deficit, intense training, maximize recovery, stay motivated.
This is one of the most vital parts of the goal setting process. You need to brainstorm direct actions you can take that will make sure the necessary factors outlined in part 3 are met – to maximize your chances of achieving your performance goals.
Example of Client X brainstorming:
Training (programing/intensity): Do a squat workout, box squat, do chin-up variation X, take my creatine.
Nutrition: have a 1500 calorie rest day, take fish oils, drink 2 liters of water, eat 500 g veggies/meal
Recovery: Sleep 7 hours, do a 30 minute walk, eat 3000 calories and 400 grams carbs on training days.
Knowledge and Motivation: Read Bojan’s fitness articles, Listen to podcast X, Watch hardcore training videos on YouTube, post my daily goals on twitter, upload photos on Facebook….
The list usually grows a lot longer than that but these are just examples to make my point. The important part is that you ask yourself the question: Which direct actions can I take that will make the factors in part 3 met, so that I can maximize the chances of reaching my performance goals?
Introducing the GOAL SHEET
The goal sheet is your personal action goal calendar. Every box represents one day and every row one training cycle or week. The figure in the top of each day is the number of days left until Point B. Start by writing down point B in the left right corner and dividing it further into performance goals for every week and wright them in the PERFORMANCE GOALS column. Then proceed to step 5 – writing daily action goals.
5. Set daily action goals.
Every day you pick 5 of the actions above and make them the goals for the day. I usually have 3-4 generic goals (habits) that stays pretty much the same through the week and 1-2 “challenges of the day” that are specific for that given day. It can be big actions or small actions – the most important thing is that you do SOMETHING every day that will get you closer to your goal, because that’s the plan of this protocol – constant action taking. With clients I sometime don’t even let them know beforehand what the goals for the day are – I text them in the morning. Turns a boring fat loss journey into an interesting game with daily challenges.
Example of how Client X’s goals for this 6 day training cycle might look like: I know that he wants to train Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday and that he will be invited to his aunt’s birthday party on Saturday so that he won’t be able to count his calories on that day- but instead he’ll have to make sure to eat 500 grams of veggies to every meal (makes him less prone to over-eat there). Since his biggest obstacle is to stay motivated he’ll have quite a few daily goals from the motivation category.
You set the goals for one week/cycle at the time on the last day of the cycle. Then your complete focus is on the daily action goals.
6. Feedback and evaluations.
A big component of achieving a set goal is to get feedback on your progress and reward successful accomplishments. By setting short term PERFORMANCE goals after the daily goals you can see if the daily actions lead to increases in performance the way you predicted. If not – you need to evaluate what factor is not being met and focus more on that when setting the goals for next week/cycle’s daily actions.
Client X: after the first cycle I might expect him to weigh 89 kg, Squat 81,25 kg and do 3 sets of 5 strict pull ups. So after the first 6 day cycle we make an evaluation – How many points did he earn for that week and did it get him to reach the performance goals for the week? Why? Why not? What needs to change for next week’s goals?
You need to reward good behavior in order to stay motivated. Each day that you complete ALL FIVE daily actions you get one point. Write the score earned for the week in the right SCORE-column and have a pre-set reward if you complete a number of points in the given period. It is important to remember that you reward the ACTIONS taken, not the performance per se. If your actions didn’t make you reach your performance goals you still earned the reward (event though you have to change your action goals for next month, or set more realistic performance goals).
Client X: Has been planning a new tattoo for a long time. He decides that if he reaches 80% of all the points he’s finally going to go through with it. That means that all he needs to do is to earn more than 20 points this 4 week cycle (20/24 days) and he deserved it. This will keep him motivated, after all – its only 5 tasks/day to a lean, strong, tattooed body– how hard can it be?
Summary:1. Write down your performance goals
2. Identify your current status and write your performance goals on the goal sheet
3. Identify the factors needed to be in place to maximize your chances to get to point B in the given timeframe
4. Brainstorm about actions you can take that will make sure those factors are met
5. Write daily action goals
6. Evaluate if the actions let to improvement in performance and set new goals on the last day of the cycle
7. Score your adherence to the plan and reward yourself by the end of the month (big time)
Putting it all together
This might be a bit lengthy and detailed but I wanted to give you a complete guide to goal setting. Really all you might need is the steps in the summary but I want you to be able to go back and look at the explanations in case you need to. Once you set the goals for the week it’s a no-brainer. You get up in the morning, look at the five goals of the day, live your life, and before going to bed make sure you finished them all, give yourself one point and go to bed proud, that reward is just ahead of you!
FREE STUFF! You can download the goal sheet in the examples Here (this is a 6 day cycle sheet, so you might have to alter it to fit your training cycle). You can also download this guide in .pdf-format HERE in case you want to print it out and save for future usage – and you should – or if you just want a more colorful and funky version. You can thank me later.
So, what can you do TODAY that will bring you one step closer to your long term goals?
Now do it.
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