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Goal Setting and Expectations

Goal setting is important in every aspect of life. Goal setting helps maintain focus and motivation, but also gives us feelings of success and accomplishment – provided we set the right goals. Goals also provide useful information about whether or not the process is working and what may or may not need to change. I use goals everyday in my profession – not only for myself but for the patients that grace Active Health Performance Therapy.

Speaking of Active Health Performance Therapy, if the day we opened our doors I said I want 40 patient visits a week per therapist, chances are we would have closed our doors after the first 6 months. Instead we had to make more attainable, practical goals for a new physical therapy practice. Keeping that in mind we decided something more in line with “2-3 new patient referrals per week for the first 3 months” and then we would reassess to make new goals. We needed to see how the first few months were going to work out before we made other more specific, long and short term goals. We had never operated a PT practice before, so we had to give it some time.

I’m sure most people who read this will nod in agreement that my goal setting for my practice made sense. What I wonder, however, is how many of you are the same people who started a fitness regimen and didn’t have goals or made arbitrary goals. Who out there thought “well Jodi broke a 3 hour marathon so I’m going to do the same” or “well I ran cross country in college so I’m going to start running 5 miles a day 5 days a week.” These seem reasonable, one because our friend did it and the other because it was done before. But life happens, and things change. Our goals can set us up for success or failure, depending on the goal setting process we employ.

Here are some of my favorite tips for goal setting:

They need to be objective – NO: I’m going to lose weight. YES: I’m going to lose 10 pounds.

They need to have a time aspect – NO: I’m going to lose 10 pounds now. YES: I’m going to lose 10 pounds over the next 30 days.

They need to be integrated – NO: I’m going to run 20 miles a week. I’m going to run a marathon. YES: I’m going to run 60 miles a week . I’m going to run a marathon.

You can’t buy a million dollar house on $35,000 a year. Make sure your goals support each other!

The other important aspect of goal setting is expectations. We, as in the Royal We, you, me, your best friend, your boss, your co – worker, spouse, our kids, expect so much of ourselves now – a – days. We need to work a great career, be the perfect spouse, have perfect kids, be perfect parents, have the newest gadget, dress our kids from the best stores, keep up with the Jones’, look a certain way, cook 6 days a week healthy non -GMO, organic, non – processed food that is beautifully displayed on the plate….. it goes on and on and on. So after you’ve worked 55 hours, been a wife and birthed 3 kids you want to run 18:23 for a 5k like you did in high school? I’m giving you permission not to. I AM GIVING YOU PERMISSION TO RUN/SWIM/RIDE/CLIMB/LIFT SLOWER/LESS/LESS FAR etc etc etc. I’d drop out too if my goal was to break a 19:30 5k like I did in high school. Now my goal, at age 40 with 2 kids one step 1.5 businesses, employees, a husband, a home etc is to break a 22 minute 5k. I’m rethinking my 22 minute 5k goal. Is training to break that time worth giving up your date night with your spouse for that extra workout? I’m going to say no.

So the point of all this – goal setting in a nutshell…

Goals. Set them. WRITE THEM DOWN. Make them objective. Give them a time limit. Review them often. Make sure they are mutually attainable and support one another. Make sure your expectations are in line with the rest of your life. Be kind to yourself and have fun. Make your most difficult goals around the activities that are your biggest priorities – kids, family, money. Make easier, more fun goals for things that help you cope – running, cycling, swimming, hiking. Review all of your goals often and don’t be afraid to make them easier. It’s more fun to be successful.

Check out this video on managing your expectations in your running!