How to Determine Your Personal Fitness Goals
Determining your personal health and fitness goals is one of the most critical steps needed to facilitate your success in taking an active role in your health and well-being. The importance of this step can not be overstated.
The probability of success is far greater when you define what the end result should look like prior to beginning the task. This being said, you will want to define both your short-term and long-term personal fitness goals.
When defining your personal health and fitness goals you will want to make sure that it is actually possible to achieve the various goals that you have set within the timeframe you have specified.
For example, one of your short-term personal fitness goals may be to lose 25 pounds of body weight within 3 months while one of your long-term goals may be to run in, and complete, a marathon within 12 months.
By defining your personal fitness goals prior to beginning your fitness routine, you can monitor your progress as you embark on your journey towards better health. One benefit to this approach is that, by actively monitoring your results, you will actually see your results in real time, thus improving your motivation and sense of accomplishment.
A second benefit to defining your fitness goals prior to beginning your fitness program is that you will quickly be able to assess whether you are obtaining the results at a rate necessary to accomplish your personal goal in the timeframe that you had defined. If you are not on pace to achieve your personal fitness goals within your defined timeline, then you will still have time to modify your fitness program to allow yourself to get back on schedule.
Determine Current Fitness Level
The first step in setting your personal fitness goals is to determine your current fitness level and abilities. In order for you to increase your probability of achieving your personal fitness goals, you need to ensure that you avoid setting unrealistic goals for yourself.
For example, it would be extremely unrealistic to set a short-term goal of becoming a bodybuilder or a seasoned long distance runner when you have no previous training in those specific disciplines. In fact, this exact type of scenario is one of the leading reasons why individuals get very discouraged with their fitness routine and give up altogether.
This being said, it is imperative that your personal fitness goals are realistic and represent goals relevant to your current level of fitness. Thereafter, all that's required to achieve your personal fitness goals will be effort, persistence, patience and time.
Set Flexible, Short-Term Goals
When you first begin your fitness program, or any other goal-oriented project, it is important to define several interim sub-goals (also known as milestones), thus allowing you to monitor your rate of progress in relation to your primary goal. In addition, as you begin to achieve each of the interim milestones along the way, you will begin to believe that the actual obtainment of your goal is achievable.
This approach toward goal setting will facilitate a higher level of belief, confidence, motivation and probability of success. There is no correct or incorrect method for defining and setting your sub-goals. For instance, your first milestone could be defined as arriving three times at the fitness center on time during your first week and performing your exercise routine as specified..
If you were able to achieve this milestone, then you should feel a sense of accomplishment in knowing that you were able to actually set and achieve a milestone within the timeframe you specified. In addition, achieving smaller milestones are an excellent way to gain confidence and maintain motivation as you move towards accomplishing your larger short-term and long-term goals.
It's important to remember that once you have defined your milestones and goals, they are not etched in stone. Just as life is diverse and ever-changing, so is the possibility that your goals are as well. However, a word of caution: any modifications that you make to your original sub-goals and goals should be closely scrutinized. It is not acceptable to reduce the level of difficulty associated with your goals because you do not feel like focusing and working hard.
However, if you find that your original goal was too simple or that there have been several changes in your personal life that simply will not allow you to set aside as much time as you had defined for a fitness program, it may be necessary to adjust your goals. In the event that you had originally set your goals at a level that was insufficiently challenging, you can modify them to a more aggressive and challenging level.
Challenge Yourself with Variety
As you become more and more comfortable and consistent with your fitness program, you may even want to challenge yourself by trying a couple of different types of fitness routines.
For instance, if your fitness program consists of riding a stationary bike, running on a treadmill and circuit training on weight training machines 3 times a week, you may want to add an aerobics class, a swimming routine or a jogging routine to the fourth day of your existing fitness program.
Another option could be to exercise with a workout partner that is slightly ahead of you in terms of fitness. By following the pace of your new workout partner, you will instantly increase the level of intensity of your workouts.
No matter what your current fitness level is, it's important to always remember that having a carefully constructed plan, coupled with a challenging but obtainable set of goals, will provide you with a higher level of focus, clarity, and appreciation for the effort that you have, and are going to continue to, put forth.
This type of reward (the attainment of a challenging set of goals) will always provide you with a sense of pride, accomplishment and the motivation required to take the next step in your ongoing fitness program. In addition, as you gain confidence in your ability to set and obtain your personal fitness goals you will find that you begin to define goals associated several other aspects of your life.