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Started Toward Goals and Simplified My Life

The smallest deed is better than the grandest intention. - Larry Eisenberg

I struggled for years to achieve my fitness goals until I discovered the key obstacle that was holding me back. After I discovered it and devised a plan for dealing with it, I have been able to move toward achieving my fitness goals much more easily and consistently. As a result I have been able to lose more than 60 lbs. of fat and gain 10 lbs. of muscle at the same time.

The key obstacle that was blocking my progress was that I had not defined my fitness goals as clearly and simply as I could Once I did that, a path toward achieving my goals became much clearer, my life became much simpler, and my stress levels related to achieving those goals went down greatly.

I went about defining my fitness goals by asking some very simple questions.

The first question was â??What do I want with regard to fitness?â?? I then listed out things I thought I might want to achieve in this area of my life. For example, below is a list of some things I might want to achieve in the area of fitness.

Lose body fat
Gain muscle
Have more energy
Get stronger
Run faster
Improve flexibility
Jump higher
Be able to do 10 pullups
Complete a marathon
Bench press 400 lbs.

After I had created the above list, I ranked the list by comparing each of the above possible goals against the others by asking myself this question: â??Which of the two goals would I rather achieve if I could only achieve one of them?â?? When I did this, the above list ended up being ranked in the following order:

Lose body fat
Gain muscle
Have more energy
Improve flexibility
Run faster
Jump higher
Get stronger
Be able to do 10 pullups
Bench press 400 lbs.
Complete a marathon

This second question was almost magical. It helped me to get rid of fitness goals that didnâ??t really matter to me, at least for now, and focus on those that really did, at least for now. I decided I would not jettison the goals at the bottom of the list forever. I would instead put them off for a while and focus on the most important ones, at least for now.

When I asked the second question, it became crystal-clear to me that athletic-performance goals were just not that important to me. At least for the foreseeable future, I would focus on losing body fat and gaining muscle.

Other goals on the list could wait. Some of the other goals on the list might automatically be achieved as byproducts of achieving the first two. But they would not be my focus, at least initially. I could always come back to the other possible goals at a later time after I had achieved the two most important ones.

After I had decided to focus solely on my two most important goals, which were losing body fat and gaining muscle, it became much easier to determine what I needed to do and what I needed to avoid. By keeping these two goals in mind and discarding everything else, I was able to avoid getting distracted by what I call bright shiny objects.

In my case, bright shiny objects include possible goals 3-8 above. As far as Iâ??m concerned, those goals do not matter at all, at least for the foreseeable future.

The next thing I did was create habit-oriented objectives. Habit-oriented objectives are activities that will move me closer to my goal and are within my control. An example of a habit-oriented objective is to get on my workout clothes, set foot in a gym, and pick up at least one weight three or more times per week.

An advantage of habit-oriented objectives is that they work with us rather than against us. Over time, as we habituate to a particular new behavior, such as going to the gym 3 times/week, we can easily proceed to add new habit-oriented objectives to the ones that have become easy. After a while, we find ourselves achieving our goals because we have habituated ourselves to do the things that someone who has what we want does. When this happens, it seems almost automatic.

Another advantage of habit-oriented objectives is that they cause us to actually move in the direction of our goals rather than just thinking about them. I absolutely love the quote by Larry Eisenberg at the beginning of this article. Going to the gym and picking up at least one weight is infinitely better than planning the perfect workout and not doing it.

James Clear is a blogger who has greatly influenced my thinking in this regard. I highly recommend his blog. His blog post called Forget About Setting Goals. Focus on This Instead is particularly good.

Iâ??ve found that clearly defining my most-important goals, jettisoning unimportant goals for the time-being, avoiding bright shiny objects, and creating habit-oriented objectives to be life-changing. Give them a try and see if they donâ??t change your life also.