You see things, and you say, “Why?” But I dream things that never were, and I say, “Why not?” - George Bernard Shaw
Setting Goals has been proven many times to be a fundamental aspect of achieving success.
Goal setting works on various levels; big goals which are often called Visions, things that need to be achieved to ensure that you move towards the Vision which we call Outcomes and the small things that you need to be doing now, which we call Actions. These are all goals, they just vary in size.
The Vision is ultimately what you want to have but success is rarely achieved by taking one great leap. More normally it is about taking small incremental steps and doing this on a continuous basis.
To some people, this can be a bit demoralising because we all want immediate gratification. Once you understand that you are unlikely to achieve everything you desire straight away and that you are on a journey then you begin to set your expectations at the correct level.
You might well have heard of the concept ‘the power of positive thinking’ and the amazing results that some people attribute to it. This concept has recently been expanded on in the lm ‘The Secret’, which I do recommend you download from the internet.
To some people, it represents a bunch of mumbo jumbo, but once you look behind the science of it you can see why it makes sense.
Each of us has an estimated 2 million pieces of information coming into our minds everyone second. Stop reading now and listen, do you hear all the sounds around you?
They were there before and your senses were picking them up, but you were filtering them out from your conscious. Until I directed you to them you weren’t aware of them.
Stored in the hypothalamus part of your brain is the Reticular Activating System (RAS), this is like a filter and whatever you place your attention on, it identifies which of those bits within the 2 million pieces of information that you are receiving, relates to what you are focussing on.
Put simply, if you believe life is good and things are going your way, you will come across information that supports that.
On the other hand, if you believe that life is painful and you are having a hard time you will see the stuff that relates to that. Both sets of information are there you just filter out those bits that are not relevant to you.
This way you create what we call self-fulfilling prophecies. Your reality is what you believe it to be.
How does this all relate to improving your health?
Well if you see yourself as an unfit person who finds exercise hard work and inconvenient, then you will see all around information that supports that. You are therefore unlikely to exercise. If you believe that you can’t get t and give in to temptation easily, guess what you will give in and then say to yourself “see, I told you I can’t resist temptation.”
Stephen Covey in his book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People refers to this concept when he talks about things being first created in the mind before being created physically. To that end, it is therefore essential that you set clear and well-defined goals at the outset of your programme.
The first goal you want to set is your Vision. What is it you want to achieve by the end of the programme? Be clear and precise. At this point, some people set health targets and that is okay, but actually, it is not really that motivating. You need to consider why you want to become healthy. Ask yourself questions such as:
What impact will achieving the goal have?
What will be the results of achieving the goal?
What’s important to me about achieving the goal?
What will I gain from achieving the goal?
Each time you give an answer, ask the question again in relation to that answer.
For example, you might say “feeling healthy will make me look better”. When you ask the question again, i.e. “what’s important to me about looking better”, you might answer, “it will give me confidence”. Each time you ask the question you are stepping up to a higher value.
Values are those things that are important to you; they drive your behaviours and are consequently very motivating.
By doing this exercise you will become very clear about why you are setting on your journey.
When things become challenging as they surely will, remind yourself of your Vision and this will help inspire you to keep going.