When it comes to improving our bodies, it’s easy to pay attention to the ‘how’ without paying much attention to the ‘why?’. This can be a problem, because if you don’t know your why, how will you know when you’ve got there?

If you were studying for a test, working for a promotion or looking to get a date, you’d have a very specific outcome in mind with a strategy to achieve it, and changing your body is no different. In this post, I’m going to provide a few useful tips to help you improve the quality of your goal setting for maximum changes.

Be Specific

The starting point for any goal is to be as specific as possible in what you want to achieve. This is something people fall down on in all areas of life and can hinder you more than you will ever know. The motivational speaker Tony Robbins said it best when he said ‘You always get your goals’ and without being specific, you always will.

Let’s take an example I come across quite a lot…the summer body. I fall into this habit as much as anyone and why not? Everyone wants to look their best when they’re on the beach with friends and/or loved ones. I don’t mind this goal, but people often say they ‘want to lose weight’. Okay, how much? Thinking of the saying from Tony Robbins, if you want to lose weight, then losing 1lb would mean you’ve technically achieved your goal. When I say this to clients, they’ll respond with ‘Well I actually wanted to lose a stone’. By when? ’12 weeks’ time’. Bingo

We may think we are being proactive when we set this goal, and we are, but without specificity, it’s hard to follow it through. My advice to anyone who wants to improve their body is to set a very specific goal because it will help you develop a strategy that enables you to achieve it.

Be Realistic

Leading on from the previous point, there must be a degree of realism in your goals, but be careful. I’ve always thought that it’s better if you don’t achieve a goal, but only just miss out. This may seem counterintuitive but think about it for a moment. If you plan to lose 8lb in 10 weeks and do so, could you have lost a couple more? Planning to lose 20lb in 10 weeks may be too much and could be detrimental to your motivation. But aiming to lose 12lb and hitting 10 means you got the balance just right and not only achieved everything you could but didn’t demotivate yourself at the same time.

My advice would be to think about what you would think you could achieve and then add 10/15% to the target, planning to account for the small extra. You’ll be amazed at how reaching for this extra 10/15% takes you to the level you need to be at to hit your original target.

Set Mini-Goals

Long-term goals are great because they give us something to work towards consistently, with a huge pay-out at the end. But we are not designed to work in the long term.

Research has shown that we think of our future selves using the parts of our brain we use for other people, and that short-term rewards are usually preferred to long-term ones, even if the short-term rewards are smaller.

For this reason, setting yourself mini-goals can be useful in guiding you towards your main goal. These mini-goals, even without rewards, will give you a sense of progress and accomplishment. And if you follow them up with mini-rewards, such as a new makeup item, a day off the gym to watch your team, or a new book, you will be even more motivated to work hard.

Set a Maintenance Goal

Finally, when you reach your final goal, you don’t want to go through all this hard work again. But 95% of dieters go back to their original weight within five years.

This is because after their weight loss plan they go back to doing whatever they were doing before, either immediately, or slowly building up to it over the years. For this reason, you must have a maintenance goal, so you can keep watching your weight and making sure it is where it needs to be for the foreseeable future.

This way you can prevent regaining weight and be able to avoid another weight loss plan.