Goal setting is something that you absolutely must be doing if you want to move forward and attain the level of success you are going for.
Almost all of you reading this right now will have some form of loose goal in mind. Even if you haven't formally learned how to set proper goals, chances are you have some sort of goal in mind as it's what brought you to learn more about muscle building and what motivated you to pick up this guide.
When you set goals however, there are certain requirements that these goals should fill in order for them to be as effective as possible in pushing you along.
If they don't fulfill these requirements, you simply will not see the benefits.
So let's go over the main requirements any good goal should have.
The very first thing that your goals must be is specific. Now, this one will apply much more too extrinsic goals than intrinsic, so just note that difference.
When I say specific, I mean that you should know precisely what it is that you want to accomplish.
You don't want to just gain muscle', you want to add 10 pounds of lean muscle mass,' or you want to add 1 inch to your arms'.
When you are specific with your goals, then you have a very clear vision in your mind of precisely what it is that you want to achieve.
Then when you do achieve it, you will gain a greater sense of accomplishment because you know for 100% certainty that you accomplished your goal.
When the goal is too loosely defined, it may become a little fuzzy and somewhat questionable as to whether or not you did actually fully attain that goal.
Next, you also want your goal to be measureable. This is important because when you can measure it, you can track your progress better.
Again, this may not be as applicable to intrinsic goals because you can't directly measure your energy level, but you do still have a pretty good idea if your levels are higher than they normally are.
With the extrinsic goals though, you can measure precisely how close you're getting.
Say you want to bench press 30 more pounds. You can see very well how far you've come and how close you're getting to that goal.
When you're 25 pounds up, you know the journey is almost done and you just need the final push to the end.
By setting goals that are measureable, you will gain a greater sense of achievement through the process of reaching the goal.
On the days where it may feel like it just isn't making a difference whether you hit the gym or not it seems progress is so slow or non-existent, you can look back at where you started and where you are now and see for yourself that yes, you have in fact made progress.
Always ensure your goal is attainable. The next two points, attainable and realistic, are two that many people get mixed up over, but there is a distinguishable difference between them.
In order for a goal to be attainable, it's something that you could in fact accomplish period.
For instance, let's say that you currently stand 5'9 and weigh 155 pounds. You set the goal to be 260 pounds of lean muscle mass and to win the Olympia.
Is this goal attainable?
Chances are no. It would take years and years of training to ever get to the Olympia level and at 5'9, getting up to 260 pounds would put you into the monster' category in terms of muscle size. It's not something that is likely attainable for your current body type.
However, planning to get into great shape and possibly entering your first body building competition next year, is an attainable goal.
You want to always double check with yourself that the goals you are setting is attainable given your genetics, your lifestyle, and your body type.
If you set a goal that just isn't attainable, the only thing you're in for is frustration.
Next, in addition to a goal being attainable, it also needs to be realistic. Now, for many people, this means the same, but notice the difference.
Using the previous example, let's now say that you stand 5'9 and weigh 155 pounds. You set the goal to be 180 pounds. Is this attainable? You bet with some proper training, this is definitely a goal that can be reached.
But now let's say you decide you want to reach that goal in 3 weeks' time.
Is that realistic? No, definitely not.
The difference between attainable and realistic is that an attainable goal is one that you can actually achieve regardless of what you have available to you and a realistic goal is one that you can achieve given the resources you currently have available to you such as time, workout equipment, funds for personal training, and so on.
You always must consider these into the mix as well. If you have a busy career, a family, and are involved in sporting activities, chances are you won't be hitting the gym five nights a week for 90 minutes per session. Set a goal that requires a demanding amount of resources and it may not be realistic.
So always look over your goals and make sure they satisfy both of these requirements.
Finally, you also need to make sure that your goal has a timeline in place. Don't pursue a goal that has no timeline because this is the fastest way to encourage procrastination.
If you have no timeline, you will just drag that goal on and on.
A timeline is what helps you feel as though today's workout that chest and shoulder workout you have planned matters because you only have 3 more chest and shoulder workouts scheduled until you reach your goal.
If you miss one, will you achieve that goal?
Timelines are very important. While you don't want to set a timeline that's too strict as you do have to remember life happens and at times, you won't be able to get a workout in and it's beyond your control. Ensure the timeline isn't too relaxed either as that'll just invite you to skip sessions or cheat on your diet plan.
So there you have the key requirements that good goals must satisfy. Whenever you set a new goal, make sure that you consider these in the process so that the goal is going to serve you as best as possible.
Now, before we move forward, a few words must be mentioned about short term and long term goals.
For best success, you should have both in your program plan. Short term goals will be what keeps you committed today .
Long term goals will be what drives you forward over the long haul .
What I would highly recommend you start doing is setting a small, easily attainable goal each morning when you wake up.
This could be something like to eat 100 calories more that day to encourage muscle growth or to do one more rep on your bench press set.
These are both things that as long as you put in a bit of effort, you will accomplish and things that will help you move closer to that long term goal you've set.
The reason these are beneficial is because each time you accomplish one, you get a good boost to your self-efficacy, which is your own belief that you can accomplish what you set out to do.
Those who have strong feelings of self-efficacy are going to feel more like they can reach the goals they set for themselves and will be more likely to put in the effort because deep down, they do believe it will pay off.
If deep down you feel like the chances you'll reach your goal are slim to none because you've constantly failed in the past, how do you think this will influence your effort?
Clearly, it's not going to be a good thing at all.
So set these small daily goals. They'll also give that workout (or diet day) a purpose - you'll have a reason for going.
It won't just be to do another workout; it will be so that you can add 1 more rep or add 5 pounds to the lift. You have something to accomplish and focusing on that can get you into that gym even when you don't feel like it.
Finally, be sure that you do evaluate your goals regularly and make sure they are still fully applicable to you.
Sometimes your goals and priorities change and that's completely fine. As long as you adjust and adapt as you go so they are always meaningful to you, that's the main thing.
Now let's move on and talk about maintaining a positive mindset.