New Year is the perfect time of year to review, assess, and set new goals. Are you using the best goal-setting methods to set yourself up for success? Science has plenty to tell us about how to set and achieve goals. Grab a pen and notepad and work through your 2022 fitness goals with us.
Science-backed goal setting methods
Fitness goals are really important. Not only do they influence how you’ll look and feel, but they dictate where your time and energy will go over a significant period of time. So it’s definitely worth approaching goal-setting in a way that increases your chance of success. Let’s turn to the science.
Goal setting vs goal selection
The concept of goal competition (as mentioned in this 2012 paper published in the American Psychological Association) states that having numerous competing goals can take focus and energy from your most important goal. So the first thing to do is brainstorm all your goals, and narrow the list down to one key goal (with smaller goals as stepping-stones).
Goal stacking for success
You already have hundreds of habits that you carry out every day without thinking about it. Brushing your teeth, making coffee, walking the dog. These habits are enjoyable, rewarding, and non-negotiable.
The concept of goal stacking suggests that you use one of these habits as a trigger for a new habit that will help you move towards your goal. For example, if your fitness goal this year is to stretch every day, your habit-stacking method could be “After I get in from walking the dog, I will stretch for 10 minutes a day.”
Set upper and lower limits
When you set a fitness goal for 2022, think about the upper and lower ends of your goal. For example, you might say “I want to lose at least 5 kilos”. But what about the maximum amount of weight you want to lose? Or you might say “I want to work out 4 times a week.” That’s great, but what would be a sensible upper limit?
Having both lower and upper limits for your goal ensures you don’t overstretch yourself and burn out, which will help ensure your new health and fitness goal is sustainable.
What are SMART goals?
SMART goal setting is one of the best-known ways to set goals and objectives in health, fitness, study or the workplace. The acronym was coined by George Doran, Arthur Miller and James Cunningham in a 1981 article which focused on management goals and has since been used by coaches, athletes, and every day people as a clear ad logical framework.
What does SMART goals stand for?
Working through the five stages of SMART goals will help you figure out exactly how to track, measure, and monitor your fitness success throughout 2022.
SMART goals are always very specific. Make sure you can pinpoint exactly what you want to achieve (so you can recognise the finish line when you get there). Ask questions like what do I want to achieve, why do I want to do this, and how will I know when I have hit this goal? Write down when, where, and with whom you will work towards this goal. Attach numbers, dates, times, and other variables to the main goal and to all the mini goals along the way.
Now that you know the numbers you’ll be measuring to achieve your goal, you need to set up systems to track and record the data. How exactly will you measure your progress? And how will you review the data and assess how well you’re doing? This might be an app, a training programme, weigh ins or progress photos, measurements, or testing yourself through repeatable training sessions.
Many people will urge you to dream big and set wildly extravagant goals, but there’s a lot to be said for keeping your goals within your comfort zone. That’s not the same as dialling down your ambition, by the way. But be realistic. If your life-long goal is to do an Ironman triathlon but you can’t swim more than 800 metres, a better goal would be to swim 2 miles non-stop. Make sure your fitness goals are achievable with the time, energy, support and resources you’ve got at this point in life.
Here’s another important reminder from the SMART goals acronym – can you fully own your goal? It’s so easy to be influenced by other people’s goals, whether that’s friends, family, or social media. Make sure your goal is relevant to you. You should be able to quickly and passionately explain why this goal means something to you, how it will impact your life, and how you expect to feel when you’ve achieved it. If it doesn’t resonate with you, maybe it’s not the goal for you.
The final letter in the SMART goal mantra is time. Every good goal is bound by a time period. This might be a 12-week training programme, a 4-week mini cut, or a year-long focus on switching to a plant-based diet. This isn’t to say you won’t carry on your new healthy habits after you’ve reached your original goal. But it’s important to have an end-date for your work period. Track backwards from your final goal to see the big picture. How long will you need to reach this goal?
How to get started with your 2022 fitness goals
Setting a fitness goal is an amazing thing to do for 2022. Having a clear, meaningful goal with a structured success plan will give you focus and clarity as you improve your lifestyle.
Check out Hussle’s huge database to find the best gym, pool, or spa to help you tick off every step as you work towards your goal. We’re here to support your healthy lifestyle.