Getting to the Heart of Goal Setting – Living Out the Lifestyle That You Want to Lead

Kylianne Turton | 10 Jan 2017
Kylianne jump with a ViPR

When starting an exercise program, we ask a client his or her goal is. As a personal trainer/movement coach, the most common responses I have gotten are:

  1. Lose weight
  2. Tone Up
  3. Increase Strength
  4. Increase Fitness

What is the biggest killer of achieving these goals as identified by clients?

Not prioritising the time.

If a goal was that important to the client, don’t you think they would prioritise the time?

My question for your client is: could it be that these are not your true goals?

To get right to the heart of goal setting, it is important to go a little deeper into why your client wants to achieve these goals.

Sure, this may sound like a cliché way of looking at goal setting; the number one reason people sabotage their fitness goals in my experience is because they can’t see how achieving those goals will benefit them in the pursuit of the life/lifestyle they want to lead. The time will not be prioritised because they can’t see the bigger vision of how investing in their body will ensure they can that live a full, happy and rich life that most people are after.

We get one body.

That body is the vehicle that allows us to live a life full of experiences, generate income to live in the things that are most important to us, create and birth children, do the things we love, with the people we love… the list of how our bodies serve us is endless.

I have been on a major personal development journey this year in which I have been going deeper to uncover who I am, what is important to me and where I am blocking myself from being the best version of me. This then lead me on a discovery of how all of the things I had learnt about myself and the tools I had learnt could be applied to goal setting when embarking on a fitness journey, ensuring that my clients are making it a priority and creating long lasting change.

I developed a program that I run through with coaching clients called Finding Your Movement Purpose.

The program combines techniques, counselling theories, and my coaching experiences from the fitness industry. It allows you to delve deeper into what is important to you, live in the things that light you up – your values and and how your body will allow you live this out. When we can see the bigger vision of investing in our body’s health feeds into our goals outside of fitness, then this is when we will see commitment to goals.

How You Can Apply This With Your Clients

Here is an easy way to apply it and pull out some goals that are closely aligned with your client and what your client wants to achieve.

  • Miracle Question – Solution Focused Therapy Adapted Approach

The miracle question allows you to start to think outside of the square in regards to new possibilities outcomes of the future (Solution Focused Therapy, 2010).

I have adapted this concept and ask a question that has been asked of me in other personal development forums. I have found it to be the most beneficial and revealing of what a client really wants, what is important to them, and what lifestyle that they want to lead so I can see how they need their body to be performing.

Question: I want you to imagine that you have woken up the day before you had been to see your doctor and they have just informed you that you have six months to live. You have also been told that for this last six-month period of your life would have no restrictions, other than time. You have been told to sleep on the question and upon waking to get a piece of paper out and plan your next six months. What would you be doing with your time? Who would you be spending it with? What would your relationship with self and others look like? Really go to this space emotionally and spend 4-5 minutes just feeling your way through and write down EVERYTHING that comes to mind. Get detailed.
Remember there are no right or wrong answers, this is about YOU.

As an example, through this process a kind client of mine has allowed me to share her experience of this. Her original goal was weight loss and her reason for not yet achieving it was not prioritizing the time.

Example of Answer: Spend it traveling with my closest family and friends, take my Dad to New Zealand, go and see the history of the world, go and volunteer some time in a third world country, go to tropical beaches, try all of the things that I would normally be too fearful to try like skydiving and bungee jumping.

Next, take the client through the following steps. I have used my client’s answer to illustrate this process.

  • Identify the areas that stand out as most important to you.

Out of this it will become very clear of what is most important to the client because these things are part of their make up.

Example of Answer:

– Travelling
– Leaving a legacy/giving back to community
– Adventure
– Family and friends
– Education

  • Write down all the ways you would need your body to perform in order live in those areas most important to you?

Once you have a clearer vision of what is important to your client, you can go deeper into how your client’s body will need to serve them to live out those things.

Example of Answer:

I would need my immune system to be strong, I would need my body to be pain-free (particularly knees and back), I would need to be stress free.

Interestingly, in this case, these were all the things that my client was struggling with at that time. Her stress overwhelmed her with full-time work, part-time university, planning a wedding and family commitments; it had been a very stressful and emotionally charged four years for this client. When stress is consuming, motivation goes out the window, and she turned to food and sitting down to study to try and combat the stress she was feeling.

  • What do you love that your body can do? Find where your body is already performing.

Here you can celebrate and bring it into the present time where your client’s body is already performing, and focus on what it can do and not how it looks.

Example of Answer:

I love that I am able to identify the messages that my body is sending me, then am able to seek help to give my body what it needs instead of pushing it beyond its limits and creating more issues for myself.

  • Make a detailed list of what your body will need to do to live in those things most important to you.

Here is where we look at some true goals. Now, this is not to dismiss the original goals listed because we will eventually get to how those original goals fit.

Example of Answer:

– I want my body to be pain-free
– I need the tools in order to remain pain free
– I want to know how to destress quickly

  • Choose two goals that you want to focus on.

Its very easy to have too much to focus on so ask your client to chunk it down into one or two goals that they want to focus on now.

Example of Answer

– I need the tools in order to remain pain free
– I want to know how to destress quickly

  • Chunk it down into actions that can be applied.

This is where you can get specific around what action is going to be taken for the two goals chosen to work on from the step above.

Example of Action Plan:

  1. A mobilisation program that can be applied during her day to help her combat a rather sedentary job and the study commitments. Will allow for the body to be nourished with movement, promoting hydration to dehydrated and compressed tissue allowing for more efficient and less restricted tissue.
  2. Have a focus on good movement preparation before a session, to ensure the body is ready to move and not being slammed with exercise that the body isn’t ready for.
  3. Use games based exercise within the sessions to improve connection, decrease stress but get that intensity feeling, promote laughter and permission to have fun.
  4. Breathing strategies to be given as homework to help down regulate the sympathetic tone and up regulate the parasympathetic tone to improve relaxation and decrease stress – can be done anywhere in any situation, will also help relax pelvic floor which is hypertonic.
  5. Have two - three sessions booked in with movement coach to ensure time for self is invested in, allows the mind to switch off and download emotion instead of bottling up what has come up for her during the week – more likely to move if something is booked in, one less thing to stress about.
  6. Understand movements that will not aggravate existing injuries, like avoiding endurance running until the body is moving efficiently.
  7. Have meals prepared so that body is being nourished – referral to nutritionist.
  • Connect it back to original goals.

Here is where it gets interesting, we have now gone full circle, but we have a deeper understanding how perhaps the original goals are going to be a by-product of focusing on the true goals

In terms of this client, when chronically stressed the body is inflamed, cortisol is high, poor food choices are made, less movement is done, more pain is felt and sleep is inhibited – all contributing to the inability to lose weight.

By having strategies around reducing stress, ensuring sessions are booked and the client is held accountable, having tools that will help her remain pain and restriction free, knowing what movements are suitable for her to reduce the likelihood of injury, and who she can go see in terms of allied health professionals to help her on the journey to weight loss will help her promote weight loss as a by-product of wellness and commitment to long-term change.


This is a great way to delve that little bit deeper into the goals that we are conditioned to list when asked what we want to achieve from a fitness program. This process will help you come to an understanding of perhaps where the blocks are for your clients in achieving those goals and, in turn, help them to create long-term change.


"Solution Focused Therapy." Australian Institute of Professional Counsellors (2010): n. pag. AIPC Article Library. Web. <>.

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Kylianne Turton

About the author: Kylianne Turton

Kylianne Turton is a Movement Conditioner in Karratha, Western Australia, Australia. A personal road to health and wellness lead Kylianne into personal training in 2011, prior to this she had completed her education and was practising in counselling. Kylianne’s sporting experience and with exercising to improve mental wellbeing, combined with mentoring from OD on Movement, empowered her to evolve her passion, to provide an authentic approach for creating client solutions. Specialising in movement conditioning, clients are guided safely, effectively and successfully through everyday challenges, empowering them to regain movement, their quality of life, and inspiring change in others. Kylianne has a particular passion for women’s pre and post natal training, after falling pregnant and giving birth to her first child identified a major gap in the market for effective movement based conditioning and education for mummas and mummas to be, especially in her region.

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