The typical advice about goal setting goes something like this: Set a goal and then tell lots of people about it. That will keep you accountable. The problem? It seldom works. In fact, it can have the opposite effect.
When you tell someone about your goal, you get a sense of satisfaction and even a little tingling sense of achievement. Your mind becomes somewhat content, as if you’ve already achieved that goal. Announcing the goal makes you feel closer to achieving it even though you haven’t actually done any work yet.
Psychologists call this a problem of “social reality” or “social acknowledgment.” You’ve identified with an end goal and get a little smug about the thing you haven’t done yet. Now you’re less likely to do the work. This is also known as having a premature sense of completeness.
A Better Method for Goal Setting
If you cannot avoid talking about your goals, then follow this idea. Talk about them in such a way that no praise or adoration can be bestowed upon you. You do not want to feel accomplised before you have even started. Otherwise you never will. Give the video below a watch, Derek Sivers makes some great points in it.
Friends Don’t Mean It
Sometimes it’s your friends and co-workers that might try to derail you. It’s natural to feel threatened by someone’s success and it can make you feel inadequate. As if the goal setting process wasn’t hard enough, you then have to contend with those you’re close to trying to throw a spanner in the works. They don’t mean it. Stick to the path and keep going.
Keep your mouth closed, do your thing, and celebrate your actual achievements, then they are so much more sweeter.
I started the other day by going through the SMART goal frame work and the meaning behind it. In this post I will discuss the framework’s draw backs, risks and limitations.
When planning a SMART goal, it’s important to be very ‘realistic’. You should go through all the apparent risks on that part of the frameowrk. Failure to do this can cause a few holes in the logic or risks to appear. For example a car manufacturer that wants to be the market leader in cheap cars. They may set themselves a goal to produce a car that costs consumers less than £5,000. This if course looks great on paper and would be a revolutionary idea. However, cheap parts means potentially a cheap job and could risjk the compaines future business plans. The bottom line is to evaluate the risks and not be too unrealistic.
Be aware not to set up too many goals at one time, it can be great to have a whole board set up with several tasks for the New Year. What is likely to happen is that they will either confilct with one another or you will get confused by trying to keep up with everything. Have one or two core goals that you are chasing at any given time.
The SMART goal framework works well if you are able to discipline yourslef to achieve what you need to. There isn’t, however, any accountability included. To be properly successful with this framework you must make sure you are accountable to something or someone. This can be a close relative or partner. If you aren’t fully committed to what you’re doing then there is a risk that with no strong accountability, the goal will be lost.
The person you choose to be accountable to needs to be reliable. Reliable so that when you’re faltering below where you should be, they will step in and re-position you in the right place to continue the goals. Briefness is a must here, and they must be able to remind you of any times you fall off the wagon.
Goals are imperative to achieving something. If you have a target that you want to reach then it must be done in a calucalted adn methodical approach. Most of the time this is done through “Smart Goals”. This is a way to break down the goal down into manageable pieces and also allows you to track your progress effectively.
So many people do not go through this imperative process, and set themselves up to fail. Similarly, people attempt this process but don’t fully understand what it is or how it works. This article will help you understand the process a little better.
I have a love hate relationship with this method of goal setting. Initially I found it very annoying, but I have come to realise it is a very useful tool in goals acquisition. Each of the letters stand for something but also have a vast depth of understanding behind them.
Specific means to be precise. Many goals are lost or just forgotten because they are too complex. Keep it simple and it will stay attainable.
This is a means of how you will measure your progress through the goal. If it is a training goal, then you will use a notepad or measureing tape for example. It must be measured in a tangible way, otherwise it will never be completed.
This is a way of reality checking your goal, is it actually achieveable within the time frame you have set, or with the resources you have? Make sure the goal is bullet-proof otherwise it will fail at the first hurdle.
Something else to consider is that it is actually within the realm of possibility. As a trainer I’ve had people with extreme goals in their mind, such as losing a stone in a week. All the positive encouragement in the world will not complete that goal healthilty. Make sure that it is realistic.
Very important. Without a time limit or deadline then you might as well be not doing anything. Make sure it’s an appropriate deadline that you can reallistically stick too. Otherwise, as above, your goals will never work.
Back pain, knee pain and headaches can all be caused by bad posture.
A heavily sedentary (seated) lifestyle will cause muscle atrophy (wastage).
‘Just’ exercising sometimes isn’t enough to break negative effects of a sedentary lifestyle.
Bad posture and back pain
Back pain and posture are intrinsically linked. Back pain can be attributed to many things. Normally the right answer to dealing with any kind of pathological pain needs a multi directional approach. In most cases though, you can alleviate pain by looking at specific places that might be causing you trouble. Let me first mention that pain relief such as deep heat and paracetamol are not solutions, they are ‘time buyers’ and may give you a few hours of respite- but ultimately you will need to combat that pain sooner or later.
So how does posture make a difference?
The spine is the strongest part of the body, mainly because it houses the Spinal chord and the central nervous system. Also because it is formed by several facets that work together to form a single unit. To effectively assess how our posture is affecting spinal health is to look at the top and the bottom- particularly when seated. The ideal position is to have the spine in a (mostly) straight line with the pelvis directly underneath and the ears in line with the shoulders at the top. Deviations from this cause muscles to be ‘short’ or ‘long’ which basically means they are changing their length to accommodate any bad posture there might be. Muscles will take the path of least resistance. Think of them as a mould. If they are subjected to a particular position, over time they will ‘set’ to that position. Sometimes painfully! Back pain in particular can be affected by the muscles of the lower back being moved and trying to compensate for a pelvis that is in a different position.
Negative effects of sitting
In the current world where most people will be sitting for the majority of the day- posture has become a huge niche for trainers and clients alike. Four or five hours of personal training in a week is fast becoming ineffective at combating the negative effects that sitting has on the body. Office workers that do manage to sneak out for an hour or during the day, or manage to go after work, are still then doing things that are reinforcing those negative effects of sitting. An example of this is a user who has a heavily sedentary career who then goes to the gym and only uses the bikes. This is beneficial on the obvious front of increasing the heart rate to encourage weight loss and blood pressure reduction, but this method of exercise will not combat the loss of strength and muscle definition that these kind of clients will suffer from.
‘Just’ exercising sometimes isn’t enough to break the cycle of negativity from being overly sedentary, you need to incorporate all aspects of physicality within your training, basically, use the whole body!
Aspartame. A topic that is hugely discussed in the world of nutrition and health- particularly since the “Sugar Tax” was recently introduced in the United Kingdom. Drinks manufacturers have ditched sugar in favour of sweeteners like Aspartame and Acesulfame K to comply with the Governments policy. Both substances are 200 times sweeter than sugar. Meaning that drinks need small amounts. Also saving on revenue for companies.
EFSA completes full risk assessment on aspartame and concludes it is safe at current levels of exposure.
As well as giving people headaches, dizziness, tiredness and bowel problems, what are the inherent risks of these substances, if they exist at all? Companies taking the iniative to remove sugar from our diets is a good thing surely? Even when motivated financially?
In regards to these chemicals giving people issues like the ones mentioned above, it is hard to relate these specifically to Aspartame and Acesulfame If you consume too much sugar then you will likely suffer from the same ailments, rendering this argument unlikely. They will produce the same “Excito-toxins” from the brain which normally produce a ‘craving’ for more. Hence why you could drink a whole bottle of coke by yourself.
My thoughts are that these substances are less dangerous than pure sugar. There is not much to suggest that they will contribute towards the same inflammatory things that sugar does. I do not possess any comparable research so take that as my two cents.
During my Personal Training course, the same info was given to me about how bad these substances are for our health. Which I obviously believed without much further thought. A few months back I was having a talk with a chemist friend of mine and he sent me these studies.
You can make your own mind up about these studies. But they both conclude that Aspartame offers no real health problems to humans in the amounts that we would find them. Unless Salad and Water forms your daily diet.
I was speaking to someone this week about their exercise habits. It occurred to me that very few people actually have knowledge of the fat to muscle relationship that regular trainees/trainers take for granted.
They said they couldn’t lift weights as they had very little fat on their body for the muscle to come from.
Let me be clear on this:
Fat and muscle are two different types of tissue.
Muscle and fat both derive from different components and their chemical make up is totally different to one another.
Muscle is mainly formed of proteins which interact with each other when a contraction takes place. Muscles are made up by millions of fibres. Which are turn controlled by a nervous stimulus.
Fat is made up of adipose tissue and doesn’t possess any nervous ability. It is a fuel source, albeit a harder one to use during exercise. Whereas muscle is not a fuel source.
If you are in a position where you want to build muscle but you have no fat, you are in a prime position. Because that means you haven’t got to worry about getting rid of excess fat and can concentrate on building the body you desire.
This is also true for the reverse. There’s no way for muscle to turn to fat. If you stop training then you may gain fat but your muscles will only atrophy which means they will get smaller.
If you find yourself in a position where you have fat and want to build muscle then again, you have no issue. Your programming will be different to the person described above. But you are still able to achieve the body you want. See my post on “EPOC training” for more information. This will give you a clear cut way of gearing you programming towards your goal!