Over the past few weeks my 9:15 MWF indoor cycling class has been working on setting and achieving small goals on the way to our overall, long-term health and fitness “destination.” After all, it's easy to decide that our “final” goal is, say, to shrink two jeans sizes in a given year or that we'll be able to run a full mile this time next year – but once we know what we want to achieve, how are we going to get there? And how can we make the process enjoyable so it doesn't become just another project that we have to complete?
One approach is to break your overall goals down into “steps” of three, six and nine months. Then, break down each three month period into smaller steps – focusing on as little as one week at a time. For example, my class has been using a mini-Periodization Training over the past four weeks to prepare for our Ryde race profile for this Friday's (Nov. 16) class.
Why break our overall goals down into such small steps? Because it's much easier to make true and lasting life changes without becoming completely overwhelmed when we literally take things one day and one week at a time.
Another reason, though, is that breaking our health and fitness goals into weekly segments allows us more flexibility – and gives us a great way to look at and work through the challenges or “blockers” that stand between us and our destination.
Some of our challenges may be constant – emotional eating, for example. But others may well come up at certain times of the month or year depending on everything from the demands of your job to the winter holiday season. When we break our overall goals down into weekly steps we can take a look at the week ahead, evaluate the challenges we know are coming, and put strategies in place to meet those challenges before they occur.
What obstacles are coming up for you in the next three-four weeks? The urge to eat (and eat, and eat...) on Thanksgiving may be something you want to be prepared for. Or maybe you have an upcoming deadline at work, or feel at the mercy of your childrens' schedules – these kinds of commitments can make exercise feel like a luxury instead of a necessity. Whatever it is, by planning for it ahead of time you'll be in much better shape to turn that challenge into an opportunity.
Another good reason to break your goals into smaller steps is it gives us more opportunities to celebrate our successes! A quick pedicure, a nap, or a specially-scheduled outing with a friend is a great way to reward ourselves for our small victories, and can re-energize us to take each next step on our health and fitness journeys. (Speaking of friends, don't forget the importance of a strong support system of people who will support you in your goals – and maybe even join you as they reach for their own.)
Finally, breaking our goals down into smaller steps gives us a road map of our journey – a map that we can look back on to see what has worked well and what needs tweaking as we make our plans for the future. In addition, seeing just how you accomplished a huge goal is a huge self-esteem boost!
If you'd like to learn more about setting health and fitness goals, Brigid two great articles – here and here on the topic as part of her series on the Keys to Success in Health and Fitness. I highly recommend it! – and I recommend taking some action today to start setting the goals that will make you proud of yourself tomorrow!
Want to work on your health and fitness goals? Sign up for MWF indoor cycling classes with Malissa at 9:15 today and get your Ryde on!