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Dublin: 6 °C Friday 18 October, 2019

Don't hide away from your goals: Setting clear, specific targets will make all the difference

Now is the perfect time to take a good look at what you want from your fitness regime.

GOAL-SETTING IS something that we’re all familiar with, but does anyone really reap the benefits of it?

We all know the SMART concept but are you any good at implementing it?

Summer is passing us by (unfortunately) and the “beach body goals” are coming to an
end for most people.

Munster’s Johnny Holland Source: Inpho/Billy Stickland

September is almost like another January, a lot of us change our goals and look to build some muscle or get back into exercising after taking a break to enjoy the sun that we’ve been lucky enough to get this summer.

But do we sit down and reset our goals in September like we do for the new year? I don’t think so.

When I was a professional athlete, especially during my rehab and my brief stint beyond that, I found setting daily and weekly goals to be one of the most powerful things I did. It gave me a different level of focus and an accountability to myself.

I would set my weekly goals on a Sunday night and then some daily goals the night before another days training. Admittedly I’m not as good at it now and it’s something I need to get back into. I still write my to do list and try to tick things off but it’s not always as powerful.

Goals don’t only have to be fitness related. Whatever your focus is, you can set goals to reach targets and be more productive than ever. That can be with work, exercise or your life ambitions.

In general, people that write down their goals are more likely to achieve them. It is
even more powerful if you say them out loud or tell a friend.

This is something that we struggle with as (Irish) people. I don’t expect anyone to walk around like Conor McGregor shouting about what they’re going to achieve, but don’t hide from your goals. Write them somewhere that you’ll be reminded of them so you’re accountable to yourself. Tell a close friend or family member. You’ll add a small bit of pressure to achieve those goals but nothing that should scare you away.

Let’s put this in to practice: if you are someone that wants to lose weight, don’t just say ‘my goal is to lose weight’ and expect it to happen. Be more specific.

How much weight do you want to lose? When do you want to lose it by? Is that a realistic and achievable time frame? How much weight a person can lose will depend on the starting point of that individual.

If a six foot male is 80kg and decides he wants to lose 10kg in 10 weeks that’s not achievable. However, if a male who is 5′ 10″ wants to lose 10 pounds in 10 weeks then it’s a lot closer to being achievable.

I would then encourage that person to work backwards. If you want to lose 10 pounds in 10 weeks then that’s an average of a pound a week. This is achievable for the person in question, but not everyone. Then I would ask them what kind of events they have coming up in those 10 weeks: is there a family wedding? Do the 10 weeks spread across Christmas? Or do you have a clear run at it? Think about the context of your goals and don’t set yourself up for failure before you even get started.

Johnny Holland scores his sides first try Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Yes, goals are supposed to be challenging. If the person in this example lost seven pounds in 10 weeks then it’s a huge positive. But if they put on two pounds in the first
two weeks because they had events that they couldn’t avoid then they’re setting themselves up for a fall and loss of interest.

Once you have your goals, set focus on the process and not the outcome. How are you actually going to achieve it? If it is your first time in a gym or working on your food habits and general diet then you might be better off finding somebody who is qualified to put you on the right track from day one. They will be able to advise you on whether your goals are achievable, the process you should go through. It is also somebody for you to bounce some ideas off and educate yourself along the way instead of guessing your way to the outcome.

Be smart when choosing your goals. Don’t just write something on a page to say you’ve ticked the box. Learn how to improve your goal setting and achieve more in all the important areas of your life.

You can follow Jonny’s fitness journey here:

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Jonny Holland

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