When I work with my clients, we always set health goals. Some are "micro" goals that can be achieved week-by-week, and some are "macro" goals that might take longer to reach. They're really important because the health goals create focus and a road map of where my clients want to go and how to get there. I give them the knowledge through meal plans, workouts, and accountability calls...but they have to do the work.
Create the Right Health Goals to Maintain Focus
If you have goals that you are ready to do the work for to reach, ask yourself if the health goals you set are controllable or uncontrollable.
Before I make the distinction between the two, know that neither are bad. It's good to have a blend of controllable and uncontrollable health goals. Let me explain!
A controllable goal is something in your life that you know you have the power to do something about right now. The end result of the goal may be weeks, months, or years away, but the controllable goals are the reliable can-do-at-anytime actions you can take regardless of most circumstance.
Here are a few examples of controllable health goals:
- I want to eat leafy greens at least once a day in a salad for the next month. DOABLE. YOU CAN EASILY CONTROL THE TYPE OF FOOD YOU EAT.
- I want to get some sort of exercise every day for 30 minutes. EVEN THOUGH PRIORITIZING THE TIME MIGHT BE DIFFICULT AT FIRST, IT'S 100% DOABLE AND CONTROLLED BY YOU.
- I want to turn off the TV an hour before bed and read. AGAIN, YOU CAN CONTROL THIS.
The common threads through each of these controllable goals are that they can be accomplished almost immediately. You can eat leafy greens, exercise or turn off the TV the same day you set the goal. They provide you with the gratification of immediate accomplishment. They are small. They require lots of repetition.
Lots of great things can happen when you do things that are good for you with a lot of repetition. Sometimes when things are done repetitiously enough, they become habit!
Here are a few examples of uncontrollable goals:
- I want to lose 30 pounds in three months. WHILE THIS GOAL IS NOT AN IMPOSSIBILITY, THERE ARE OTHER FACTORS, SUCH AS HORMONES, THAT YOU DON'T HAVE AS MUCH CONTROL OVER. YOU CAN SET THIS GOAL, BUT YOU NEED TO CLEAR THE PATH VIA CONTROLLABLE GOALS TO GET THERE!
- I want to lose 6 inches from my chest/upper body. OUR BODIES HAVE A MIND OF THEIR OWN. WHEN PEOPLE ASK ME IF THEY CAN "SPOT" REDUCE, THE ANSWER IS GENERALLY NO...HOWEVER, BY FOCUSSING ON CONTROLLABLE GOALS, YOUR BODY WILL LOSE WEIGHT, USUALLY IN THE ORDER IT CAME ON (FIRST ON THE BUS, LAST OFF).
- I want to lower my overall cholesterol. WHEN PEOPLE WANT TO LOWER CHOLESTEROL, THEY REALLY WANT TO LOWER THEIR LDL, RAISE THEIR HDL AND LOWER THEIR TRIGLYCERIDES. ALL OF THIS CAN HAPPEN, BUT YOU NEED TO ADJUST A NUMBER OF THINGS IN YOUR DIET AND PROBABLY IN THE WAY YOU EXERCISE TO GET THERE. SOMETIMES GENETICS PLAY A ROLE IN HOW CONTROLLABLE THIS REALLY IS.
The common threads with each of these uncontrollable health goals are that there is no fast path to achievement and the variables that play into making progress vary greatly. Hormones, sleep, stress are just a few non-food and non-exercise examples of variables that can influence the success of reaching any of these goals. Because these goals typically take a longer time to achieve, it's easy to lose focus and forget about why you started in the first place.
Uncontrollable goals are like the final destination of a long and winding journey. You can get there, but there may or may not be a lot of bumps in the road. Think of controllable goals as the fuel you put in your vehicle that gets you there. No matter how many bumps in the road there may be, if you've got fuel in the tank you can always keep going.
Watch my reel about why most of us get stuck en route to our goals.