The Balance Between Long and Short Term Goals
What are your goals? Yes, I posed that question last month. Goals are an integral part of life. They are vital to personal growth and development in every area of life – fitness, spiritual, intellectual, vocational, and even family.
Far too many people float through life without any goals. I asked one of my sons recently, “What do you want to accomplish in school this year?” He said, “I don’t know.” Then I asked, “How about football?” He said, “I don’t know.” I said, “If you don’t know, I sure don’t either!”
As a personal trainer, I ask the same question. I can’t help someone unless they have an idea of what they want to accomplish. I can help guide them in this process but goals must be specific, personal, and measurable. They must also be attainable. For example, I met with the pastor of my church this week. Cory is 39, in reasonably good shape, and has some goals. He wants to lose 15 pounds, strengthen and tone his upper body, and prepare for a marathon next summer. These are specific and attainable.
Our goals should be small and large goals or short term and longer term. For me, it’s mileage goals for my running – by the month and by the year. I am a bit compulsive about tracking my progress on 4 X 6 cards. For you, it can be as simple as writing in a diary, “walked 3 miles today”. What I’m suggesting is that you keep track of what you do and hold yourself accountable.
When we become committed to a goal, it serves as a form of self-accountability. Our weight-loss goals, ability to run a race or hike a path happen only when we are intentional about them. This occurs when we decide what we want to do (make a decision), develop a plan (operationalize our goal), begin moving forward with what we determined to do (movement toward our stated goal). The main ingredient that holds this all together is accountability. My pastor understands this. He asked me to check in on him weekly to make sure he is making progress toward his goals. What about you? What do you want to accomplish? Maybe it’s to run a 10 K race (6.2 miles) or lose 30 pounds. Will you write me this week and tell me about your personal goals?
Lastly, remember the three most important components of fitness are consistency, intensity, and duration. The hardest of these is consistency. We get bored. We become distracted. We lose interest. Staying consistent is tough, that’s why having goals helps us keep our focus. For example, one of my long-term goals is to climb all 54 of Colorado’s 14,000-foot peaks. This takes planning, not to mention time, expense and an ability to endure discomfort. It also requires that I make progress toward this goal each year. After living in Colorado for two years, I just reached my eighteenth summit this week, 14,294-foot Crestone Peak.
The top of every peak I have ever climbed is achieved one-step at a time. If you try the things I have suggested, you will achieve your goals the same way – one-step at a time and one day at a time.
Don S. Otis is the author of Staying Fit After Forty and a personal trainer living in Canon City, Colorado. He is the newest member of The Christian Pulse’s Health and Fitness Team. He can be reached at Don@veritasincorporated.com © 2009