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Why goals are a bad idea and what you should do instead

Posted on 2 m read

Right now EVERYONE seems to be  talking about 2017 goals! It’s just that time of year.

I’ve had the concept of SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timed – actually there are two good reasons right there why you shouldn’t be setting them – realistic??) goals drummed into me for years. Working in the fitness industry it was always deemed massively important that you have a specific goal in mind to lose the weight or get fit for. And on paper, it all makes perfect sense. Looking good for a special day or being sufficiently trained for a particular race or event seems like logical motivation.

However I have to say, timed deadlines including SMART goals, freak me. the fudge. out.

As each week goes by I end up thinking how much less time is available and then panicking and end up self-sabotaging as the date gets close.

So this year, I’m actually going to learn the lesson. Instead of focusing on goals I’m focusing on activities.

Of course I still have goals (that old thing about how will you know when you get there, still rings true…) And obviously I had an idea of when I want to achieve them by. But I’m going to focus on the activities, the baby-steps, the daily HABITS that will get me where I want to go, rather than focusing on the end goal every day.

In my previous line of work, my personal trainers used to get really stressed out about the number of new clients they needed to gain each month. They used to freak out at the number as if they had no control over it. However when we sat down and worked backwards, the steps to get there were achievable. They knew roughly how many people they needed to take through a PT Taster session to convert one in to a new client. And they knew roughly how many conversations they needed to have on the gym floor to book a taster. So all I asked them to worry about was making sure they had enough meaningful conversations to get the number of tasters they needed to get enough new clients. And that was tangible and realistic and doable and not scary and actually, quite fun.

This longer-term approach feels so much better. Just thinking about approaching my own goals this way makes me feels calmer. All I have to do is complete the small daily steps that take me closer to where I want to go.

So if you’re like me and not great under time pressure, be kind to yourself. Of course, you still need some key objectives but instead of stressing everyday about the end result, focus on being religiously consistent with the daily habits required to achieve the goals and no doubt, before long you’ll turn around and realise that you’ve arrived at your goal.

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