Is setting a goal to fit in to your favorite pair of jeans powerful enough? How about a goal to lose weight and drop 15 pounds by the time you head to Cancun for your beach vacation?
As a lifelong student of goal setting, I don’t believe that this type of short-term goal is powerful enough to create any significant, long-term changes in our behaviors. There are ways, however, that we can increase the chances of success with our weight loss and overall physique goals.
Before we dive into some concrete steps that will help you start making faster and long lasting changes, let’s take a brief look at how your brain works and how this can help you with your fat loss and ideal body goals.
I first learned about the reticular activating system (RAS) back in Chiropractic College many years ago. The RAS acts like a filter in your brain. It filters out things that it considers unimportant to you. And, it brings into focus items that are on your important list.
Are you starting to see how this might be an important and very helpful part of your ideal body and weight loss goal setting strategy? Here is an example that might help you.
Let’s say you have set a goal to lose twenty pounds by the time you head off on your beach vacation in 3 months. Later on in this article I’ll give you some great tactics to make this goal more focused and powerful. First, let’s get back to the job of the RAS to help you with this weight loss and “beach vacation goal”.
Once you have a goal in mind and start thinking about it often, the RAS goes to work bringing all sorts of things to your attention that relate to your goal. For example, you might start noticing more articles on fat loss and exercise in magazines. Or you may just happen to run into someone who shares some great tips on exercise and weight loss.
What seems to occur, is that the stronger and more energized your goal is, the more laser-focused your RAS becomes. The more often you reinforce your goal, the more your brain will create new circuits or pathways for this new knowledge. Repetition and reinforcement is the key.
Now that you have learned how to rewire your brain to help you achieve your “new body goals”, here are some strategies that will help you get there and stay there for life.
1. Be clear and specific with your goal setting. Having a goal to “lose weight” or to “get in shape” is far too vague. Write down a concise goal of how much weight you want to lose, what size jeans you want to wear, what body measurements you desire and your ideal body fat percentage.
Now that’s getting specific and will give you a much clearer focus on your target goal. The more specific the better.
2. Don’t sell yourself short with limitations. When you set a goal to lose 20 pounds, make the goal “I will lose 20 pounds or more by the time I leave for my beach vacation”. In this way you won’t be limiting yourself. This alone is a very powerful strategy.
3. Set a deadline for your goals. If you want to make changes that will help you create your ideal body, you’ll need short, medium and long-term goals. Short-term goals would be your daily, weekly and even one-month goals. For a daily goal you might aim to increase the intensity of your workout or eliminate one food from your diet. A one-week goal could be to lose one, or even two pounds. At the one-month mark, you could have a goal to fit into a new pair of jeans.
You should take special note of the “new pair of jeans”. I wrote that intentionally because giving yourself a reward for reaching an important weight loss goal is essential. I should probably mention that a food reward is not the ideal way to celebrate a weight loss and fitness goal.
4. Have a powerful reason behind your goal. It will be a tremendous help to figure out the biggest motivators behind your goals. Some examples might include; look fantastic in my new bikini or swim trunks, look and feel great into my eighties and beyond, look sexy and attractive for my spouse or significant other. Or how about to set a great example for my kids?
5. Turn your goal into a multi-media campaign. I have saved the most powerful goal setting techniques for last. Included in this approach are;
a. Clear written goals in affirmation format (ex: I will lose 20 pounds or more within the next 6 months so I can look and feel fantastic at my wedding).
b. Photos of your goal. A really effective technique is to find a picture of the ideal body you desire from a magazine and cut it out. Then paste an image of your head/face over the model’s image. Voila, the new you.
c. Place your goals where you will see them often. You could place stickies or note cards on your bathroom mirror, fridge, dashboard of your car and your bedside table. Keep in mind that repetition and reinforcement are essential with all of these goal-setting strategies.
There is no such thing as overnight success with weight loss, muscle building and creating your ideal body. However, everyone can attain this goal if it is meaningful and important. These techniques will help bring your goals into laser focus and drastically increase your chance of success.