Full disclosure: I probably started this post almost two months ago, left midway through writing it, and then started another post a few days later and moved on with my life. I just realized that I never finished this one, and since I didn’t look back and think, “Wow, I sounds like a complete moron in that post,” I thought I’d share it with you. Enjoy.
One of the first things you learn to ask your clients as a fitness professional is, “What are your goals?” (You learn to ask lots of stupid things when you become a trainer, because most of us get our start in this industry by working for big health clubs, who quite frankly know as much about fitness as I know about the Russian ballet… and in case you’re wondering, I’m not an expert on Russian ballet)
The person being questioned will invariably answer this overly-broad question by saying, “I want to lose 20 pounds,” “I want to be able to do a push-up,” or some other business as usual response.
“So what’s wrong with that?” you may ask. (If you read my blog regularly, it’s actually far more likely that you’re asking yourself, “Why does he always play this stupid ‘pretend question and answer’ game?” with me)
Well, what I’ve come to realize is that when you ask someone their goals in this fashion, what they’ll give you isn’t a goal, it’s an outcome. The distinction is more important than you might think.
Losing 20 pounds isn’t a goal, it’s just the outcome you want. A goal should probably involve something you can directly influence, such as what foods you’re eating or what kind of workouts you’re doing.
A much more appropriate way of looking at goal setting is to work backward from your desired outcome.
If you want to lose 20 pounds (I hope that’s not the actual outcome you want – I’ll post a later date about why you should throw away your bathroom scale), then you should probably create a goal that states how many times you’re going to workout a week and what kinds of foods you will and will not have. These are things you actually have control over and you can measure your success on a far more meaningful basis than if you’re just weighing yourself.
Here’s where present-day, January 2012 Mark jumps in and relates his months-old work to something current.
Now that it’s the New Year, if you have fitness-related goal, make sure it’s just that – a goal. An outcome can be nothing more than a delightful illusion if you don’t have any plans to put into action.