12. How to set goals
Goals that will propel you forward with unstoppable motivation.
Date: 4/9/2009 8:40:43 PM ( 10 y ) ... viewed 1549 times
This might be the most important part of my entire blog - even though it has nothing to do with calories, protein, carbohydrates, fats, cardio, weights or anything else related to nutrition or training. You see, there is a simple, but critical procedure you must complete before you lift a weight, jog a mile, start a nutrition program or even set foot in the gym. If you successfully complete this procedure, the nutrition and training will come easy and a lean body will soon follow. If you ignore this step -like most people do - you are destined to fail no matter what you do or how hard you try. This crucial first step is goal setting.
A lot has been said and written about goal setting - entire books have been devoted to the subject - but the truth is, most people never decide exactly what they want.
Some people give their goals a fleeting thought, but most never get specific and commit their dreams and desires to writing.
"Most people, spend more time planning a party, studying the newspaper or making a Christmas list than they do planning their lives."
only 3% of Americans have actually taken the time and effort necessary to put their goals to paper. This is unfortunate because the number one reason for failure in losing body fat and in life - is the lack of clearly defined, written goals. Not having goals is like shooting at a target with a blindfold on.
The difference between knowing what to do and doing what you know.
Nutrition and exercise can be confusing subjects, so when you first get started, the initial challenge is that you don't know what to do. Gaining knowledge is only half the battle. The far greater challenge for most people is applying that knowledge and taking action. There is a big difference between knowing what to do and doing what you know. Goals are the bridges that span this gap.
Goals, when properly planted in the subconscious mind, produce action. Goals create energy and motivation. Goals get you out of bed early in the morning and into the gym. The secret to staying motivated all the time is to set emotionally charged goals - in writing - and to stay totally focused on those goals day and night, without taking your eyes off them. A goal with a purpose is the fuel that propels you forward.
You might think that you're in total conscious control of your behaviors, but it's really your SUB-conscious that controls your behavior. If you know what to do, but you can't seem to get yourself to do it, you've probably been giving negative or conflicting
messages to your subconscious mind. The behaviors that are produced by subconscious conditioning are more commonly referred to as habits. Fortunately, you can re-program your subconscious mind with positive instructions and become a creature of positive habit, just as easily as you can become a victim of negative habits. It all begins with a conscious decision and written goals.
The power of the thought
The most important part of getting in great shape is simply making up your mind to do so. You get in shape by setting goals and thinking about them all day long. I know that sounds a little strange, but stay with me for a minute and I'll explain.
I'm not saying you can simply "think yourself thin." No amount of positive thinking will work without action. Obviously you have to exercise and eat the right foods.
What I'm suggesting is that if you don't channel your mental energies properly, even the best diet and training program won't help because you will always "sabotage" yourself. Did you ever wonder why you have lapses and breakdowns in "willpower?" Or why some days you just can't drag yourself to the gym? Or why you "fall off the wagon" completely? Or why you can't say "no" to those chocolate chip cookies? It's because negative programming in your subconscious mind is controlling your behavior.
This is not a "new age," "Pollyanna" or "pie-in-the-sky" mentality - there's a valid scientific reason why goal setting works. It works because it harnesses the awesome power of your subconscious mind, and your subconscious mind guides your behavior.
How your "mental computer" is programmed for success or failure
Your mind has two components: The conscious and the subconscious. The conscious mind is the rational, logical, analytical, thinking part of the mind. The conscious mind is constantly taking in information from the five senses, then it reasons, analyzes and comes to conclusions about whether the input is true or false. The subconscious is the part of the mind responsible for storing data (memory), for automatic behavior (habits), reflexes and autonomic functions of the body such as digestion, breathing and circulation.
It's important to understand that unlike the conscious mind, the subconscious mind does not "think." It is entirely deductive in nature, which means it works like a computer. All the data programmed into your subconscious "computer" is accepted and assumed to be true. It doesn't matter whether the data is actually true or false. The subconscious unquestioningly accepts everything that reaches it. It then carries out the programming you have entered into it.
Suggestions given under hypnosis or affirmations repeated during deep relaxation are quick ways to access the subconscious mind. Another way to penetrate the subconscious (although much slower) is through repetition. Everything you hear, see, say, read or think repeatedly will eventually filter into your subconscious mind. In other words, you are constantly programming your brain through conscious self-suggestion - or you are allowing your brain to be programmed through external suggestion.
The psychological reason most people sabotage their efforts to lose body fat.
The conscious mind is a lot like the captain at the bridge of a ship. The captain gives a command and sends it down to the engine room. The subconscious mind is like the men down in the engine room. No matter what orders come down from the bridge (conscious mind), the crew obeys, even if the orders are stupid ones that crash the ship into a rocky shore. The reason this happens is because the crew (the subconscious) can't see where the ship is going; they are simply following orders.
Like the ship's crew, your subconscious mind accepts every command your conscious mind gives it - its sole purpose is to obey and carry out your orders, even if you give stupid ones like "I'll never see my abs." Frequent repetition of thoughts (mental orders) is one of the most certain ways to penetrate the subconscious mind. This is why, by repeating "I can't lose weight" over and over, your subconscious will see to it that you never lose weight because that's its job - to follow you’re every command literally and without question.
What you think about repeatedly every day is eventually accepted by your subconscious mind and your subconscious mind guides your actions on "auto-pilot." This is the basis for the entire positive thinking movement. People who say that positive thinking, affirmations and autosuggestions don't work for them aren't using them correctly or consistently; they're canceling out every positive command with a negative command. If a captain gave an order, "Go east," but then kept changing his mind; "No, go west.. .no, go north, etc.," the ship would never get anywhere! That's why most people don't get anywhere in their fitness, business or weight loss endeavors, either. Ironically, the very statement "positive thinking doesn't work" is a negative affirmation that guarantees it won't work!
Without a target, your mental "servo-mechanism" will simply steer you towards your dominant thoughts. The subconscious mind is always at work 24 hours a day whether you direct it consciously or not.
Because of the way your subconscious works, it's extremely important for you to focus all your thoughts on what you want to achieve, not on what you want to avoid. This is not mere semantics; it's a very important distinction. If I ask you to close your eyes and not to think about monkeys, you'll (mentally) see monkeys everywhere. You can't NOT think about something! You either think about something or you don't. And you always move toward what you think about the most, regardless of whether it's positive or negative.
If Madison Avenue advertising giants can influence your subconscious mind to make a buying decision by repeating an ad a mere two dozen times (they can), then just imagine the impact that millions of your own thought commands have on influencing your subconscious mind - it's staggering! That's why it's so important for you to take conscious control over your mental dialogue and program your brain with positive goals.
Fortunately, the one thing in life you always have 100% total control over is your thoughts. If you want to be successful in losing body fat or any other endeavor in life, you must master your communication with yourself. You must take charge of your self talk, "police" your thinking, and literally re-program your brain for success.
Positive statements and empowering Questions
How can I lose fat and enjoy the process?
What can I do today that will help me get closer to my weight loss goal?
What can I eat right now at this meal that will help me lose body fat?
How great am I going to feel after I fish my workout today?
My metabolism is getting faster every day.
I am getting leaner every day.
I like the way I look.
I am 100% responsible for my results.
Whatever it takes, I'll do it.
I like eating healthy foods.
I love working out.
Training early in the morning is exhilarating.
I have time for anything I am committed to.
I like myself
I can do it.
I'll do it.
1. Set specific goals
When I ask people what they want to achieve from their fitness programs, I usually get vague answers like, I want to get leaner, "I want to lose weight," or "I want to build muscle." That's a good start, but it's not enough - it's too general. Specific goals have a more powerful impact on your subconscious than general goals. A vague goal is like the captain of a ship saying, "Go west." The ship may be headed in the right general direction, but without a specific destination, it will probably get lost at sea.
Narrow it down. Be specific - right down to the digit. Exactly how many pounds do you want to lose? When do you want to complete your goal? How much body fat do you want to lose? How much do you want to weigh? What measurements would you like to have what size clothes do you want to wear?
2. Set measurable goals
You must have a way to objectively measure your progress; otherwise you'll never know whether you've actually reached your goals or not. The mirror is definitely a useful tool, because ultimately the only thing that really matters is that you're happy with the way you look. However, because you perceive changes in your body so subjectively, (and it's sort of like watching the grass grow), it's also helpful to have other ways to measure your results.
The scale is also a useful tool, but it doesn't give you 100% of the feedback you need. You shouldn't be as interested in how much you weigh as in how much body fat you have. The ideal method to measure your progress is body composition testing. Body fat can be easily measured using a skin fold test.
3. Set big goals.
Too often, people shortchange themselves and make statements like, "I could never look like that" or "I'm too old." Other people buy into the low expectations of well meaning family or friends who tell them to "be realistic." Nothing great was ever achieved by being realistic! Most people get scared when setting goals and ask only for what they think they can get, not what they really WANT. This is a mistake because puny, "realistic" goals are NOT motivating. WANTS are motivating.
When you're setting your goals, don't be afraid to think big and set your sights high because you can only hit what you aim at! Decide what would you really like to look like if you could have ANY body you wanted. See the picture in your mind. Make it"
clear, vivid and dynamic. Dream. Fantasize. You've been endowed with an amazing
creative faculty called imagination. Use it - it's the starting point of a new self-image and
all lasting changes.
There are certainly genetic limitations to what you can achieve athletically and physically, but most people never even come close to actualizing their full potential simply because they don't believe it's possible. Therefore, they don't even try. It's really more a question of willingness than genetics. Don't ask yourself, "Is it possible to reach this goal?" That's the wrong question. The right questions are, "How can I achieve this goal?" and, "Am I willing to pay the price necessary to achieve this goal?" You can accomplish virtually anything if you're willing to pay the price.
4. Set realistic deadlines.
"Lose 30 pounds in 30 days!" "Lose 10 pounds this weekend!" You see ads like these plastered on billboards all the time, and they sure are enticing. But is it really possible? Can you really lose weight that quickly? The answer is yes. It's quite possible to lose 30 pounds in 30 days or 10 pounds over the weekend. However, if you do, you're making a big mistake by confusing fat loss with weight loss."
5. Set long-term and short-term goals.
As you begin to think about what you want specifically, don't just write down one goal, make an entire list. Your goal list should include long term and short-term goals. There are six types of short and long-term goals you can include:
1. Your ultimate long-term goal
2. 12 month goal
3. Three month goals
4. Weekly goals (Weekly body composition test and weigh-in)
5. Daily goals (habits to develop, things to do every day repeatedly)
6. The goal of beating your personal best.
6. Establish the emotional reasons why you want to achieve your goals.
Everyone has days when they don't feel like working out or eating the right foods. The secret to staying motivated at times like these is not just having a goal, it's establishing the "reason why" you want that goal - it is the purpose behind the goal.
Determining the reason you want to achieve a goal adds emotion to it. The more emotion you stir up, the more motivated you'll be to go after it.
Remember, emotion is "feeling." When you think about the reasons you want your goal, you are "feeling" with emotion. What are your reasons? Sometimes people
have something to prove. Getting in shape for a wedding or vacation is often an important reason for many people to get in shape. So is being attractive to the opposite sex. For others, their reason is fear of health consequences (their doctor tells them if they don't lose 50 pounds in the next six months, they will die of a heart attack!)
7. Make sure your goals are not conflicting. Put all your attention on your number one most important goal.
There's an ancient Chinese saying: "He who chases two rabbits catches neither." One of the most common obstacles blocking the way to reaching a goal is setting two goals that are in conflict. In the case of fat loss, the most common conflicting goal is trying to gain muscle and lose fat at the same time. It's common to see a large decrease in body fat accompanied by a slight increase in lean body mass. It is also common to see a large increase in lean body mass accompanied by a slight decrease in body fat. But one thing you will almost never see is a large increase in lean body mass and a large decrease in body fat simultaneously. It is physiologically impossible to lose fat and gain muscle at the same precise moment in time. In order to lose fat you need a calorie deficit. To gain lean body mass you need a calorie surplus. One process is catabolic and one is anabolic. Therefore, there are big differences in the types of nutritional programs you need to achieve each of these contrasting goals.
Over a period of weeks or months it is certainly possible to see a net gain in muscle and a net decrease in body fat. However, that is the result of alternating back and forth between short periods of caloric deficit with short periods of caloric surplus (a.k.a, the zig-zag" method). This is the most difficult of all the goals and it is a slow and inefficient process. You are compromising your results in both departments if you set muscle gain and fat loss as simultaneous goals. Advertising for supplements and weight loss products has brainwashed many people into believing that incredible gains of muscle, along with large losses of fat are commonplace - they're not! They're quite rare. When someone successfully makes large muscle gains and fat losses at the same time, usually they're merely regaining muscle they'd previously lost, they're genetic superiors or they're using performance-enhancing drugs.
8. Write out an extensive goal list in the form of affirmations
The next step is to write down all your goals on a sheet of paper or on cards in the form of statements called "affirmations." There are three rules you must apply when writing your affirmations:
1. First, your affirmations must be personal: Use the word "1." One of the best ways to start an affirmation is to use the phrase "I AM" or "I have." Your subconscious only responds to commands given to it in a personal manner. Anything you say after "I AM" has power. One of the best affirmations I have ever heard comes from Bob Proctor, and it goes like this: "I am so happy and thankful now that I am _________" (fill in your goal).
2. Second, your affirmations must be written in the present tense. To your subconscious mind, there is no future. Your subconscious mind only responds to commands given to it in a present tense. It may feel strange to write a goal in the present tense, but if you write it in the future tense (for example, "Next year I will" or "I'm going to"), your subconscious mind will make sure it always stays in the future. Always write, think and visualize your goal as if you have already achieved it.
3. Third, you must state your goal in terms of the positive. Your subconscious moves you towards whatever you think about whether it's positive or negative. Therefore, write what you want, not what you want to avoid.
9. Read your affirmations (your goal list) at least twice a day and always keep your goals "in front of you" and "on your mind."
You can use the power of repetition to influence your own subconscious and move yourself into action. Once your affirmations are written out, read your list at least twice per day, once in the morning and once at night. Read them more often if you can. I you want to amplify the effect of the affirmation technique even more, don't just read your affirmations; write them out by hand every single day.
10. Read your goals with faith.
Napoleon Hill, author of Think and Grow Rich and The Law of Success said, "All thoughts which have been emotionalized and mixed with faith begin immediately to translate themselves into their physical equivalent."
What is faith? Faith is just another word for unshakeable belief. Faith is believing in what you can't see. Faith is knowing that eventually you will reach your goal, even though you look in the mirror and see that little or nothing has changed yet. The opposite of faith is doubt.
How do you cultivate this attribute of faith? ACT AS IF. Read affirmation statements written in the present tense as if they were already achieved. See mental pictures of yourself as if you had already achieved your goal. When you look in the mirror every day, see what you want to become, not what is presently there. Behave as if you were already there. Speak as if you were already there. "Act as though I am and I will be," says the ancient proverb. If this seems like you're "lying" to yourself; well, yes, that's exactly what you're doing. Repeat a "lie" often enough and you'll soon start to believe it and act on it.
11. As you read your affirmations, mentally visualize them as already achieved.
Visualization means making mental pictures or images - it's thinking without words. The brain thinks in pictures. If you think of a mountain, you probably don't see M-O-U-N-T-A-I-N spelled out in your mind. If you're like most people, you see an image of a mountain. If I ask you to think about your car, you'll instantly get a picture of your car in your mind.
Because your brain thinks in pictures, adding a bright, clear, moving mental picture of what you want to achieve will help you to penetrate your subconscious mind more rapidly and more deeply than if you just read your goals.
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