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Goal Setting

Goal setting is a great way to give yourself direction during your exercise program. Goal setting is also an effective way to increase motivation and the likelihood of exercise compliance over long periods of time. Effective goal setting is a nuanced skill and poor goal setting may cause discouragement and program abandonment. 

Outcome and Process Goals

There are 2 main types of goals, outcome goals and process goals, both are important for achieving success. Outcome goals describe something you want to achieve, like losing 50 lbs or benching 225 lbs. Process goals describe how you will achieve your goal, like eating 1,500 calories a day or following a progressive overload weight lifting program 4 days per week. A good formula to use is to set an outcome goal and 1-3 process goals to follow until you achieve your desired outcome.  

I find that people face 2 main challenges as they try achieving a goal they set: goal selection and disorganization. 

People often select goals that are too hefty or too vague. If your goal is to lose 50 lbs, then it may be too large a task to tackle all at once. Losing this much weight can take a year or longer. Setting intermediate milestones is important here. You can aim to lose 5 lbs per month. Also, you can set process goals to help achieve your outcome goal of losing 50 lbs. A good process goal would be to only eat dessert on Sundays, or to stop snacking at work. 

A common goal that is too vague is to “get in better shape”. This goal is great for changing lifestyle habits and improving your wellbeing, but is so ambiguous that it will set you up for failure. Here you can set an outcome goal within a specific aspect of fitness like running or strength, then follow process goals to achieve that outcome. 

A great guideline for selecting effective goals is to use the acronym SMART(ER). [Learn more about SMARTER goals here]

The 2nd challenge goal setters face is disorganization.

Creating a road map is a crucial step to achieving your long term goals. A good roadmap will break down a long term goal into intermediate goals. Intermediate goals should be outcome goals that are paired with 1-3 process goals. For goals that are less straightforward, like doing a handstand pushup, some research may be needed to identify appropriate intermediate outcome goals. 

A road map breaks large goals down into bite sized chunks and gives you several checkpoints to re-evaluate and adjust your goals. If your goal setting is well organized, achieving your goals becomes as easy as checking boxes off a checklist.

An example of a road map for handstand pushups would be: 

1. Intermediate Outcome: Control in frog pose for 15 seconds. 

  • Process: Implement wrist strength and mobility 3x per week 

  • Process: Practice frog pose 3x per week.

2. Intermediate Outcome: Control handstand for 15 seconds

  • Process: Train wall assisted handstand shoulder alignment 3x per week.

  • Process: Practice tripod headstand 3x per week. 

3. Intermediate Outcome: Develop shoulder strength, overhead press 80% of bodyweight.

  • Process: Train overhead press, 6 strength sets per week.

  • Process: Train wall assisted handstand pushups, 6 sets per week.

4. Outcome: Do a handstand pushup.

  • Practice freestanding negatives (eccentrics).

  • Practice static balances at different stages of HSPU movement. 

If you create a solid roadmap and stick to your habits. You will be reaching your goal in no time! Remember to stay flexible and readjust your goals as necessary. 

"A goal is not always meant to be reached; it often serves simply as something to aim at." –Bruce Lee


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