Whether you work in the health and fitness industry or not, it is strikingly obvious that most people are generally not living the lives they want. This becomes most obvious when people make New Year resolutions, or in many cases, don’t bother because they know they are going to fail.
To change, we must leave behind some of what we have today. To start taking exercise, we must do some things we don’t normally do (go to a gym, buy trainers, etc.) and stop doing some things that we are doing (watching television, going to the pub, etc.). We call this paying the price.
The stimulant for change in most people is primarily about getting rid of something in their lives rather than gaining something – we tend to be driven more by moving away from pain than moving towards pleasure. For this reason, when someone decides enough is enough and they are going to change, then their motivation is usually quite high. They decide to take action; they join and begin attending a gym.
For most people, this is a step outside their comfort zone and they feel discomfort on some level. As humans we have a pretty good survival mechanism so when we experience anything uncomfortable we tend to move away from it. Even if only unconsciously, our mind asks certain questions: Do I really want to be doing this and are the results going to be worth it? In other words, is it worth paying the price to change?
To be able to answer this question and to follow through on the change, it is believed three things are required. Firstly, we must have a clear vision of what we are going to gain from changing; this is often called our desired situation. This must clearly define the benefits we are going to receive from the new situation. Secondly, we must have enough dissatisfaction with our current situation to want to move away from it and, finally, we must have an understanding of how we are going to move from where we are to where we want to be.
Goal setting is of paramount importance in steps one and three of this process. A goal is simply a destination, a place where you want to end up. A vision is a goal and a destination with benefits attached to it. These are things that make it desirable. For example, a client might say she wants to lose two stones or wear a size 12 dress. Both of these are destinations, but they are not really visionary. To progress these goals into visions you might ask questions such as, “What do you hope to gain from losing 2 stone (28 pounds)?” or “What will being in a dress size 12 do for you?” At this point, the client is being forced to address why they want the goal. Surprisingly, there are times when they can’t answer, so clearly there is no way they are going to be willing to pay the price.
To help clients identify the benefits they might gain from achieving their goal, ask where they want to be in three and six months’ time. Get them to imagine what it would be like if they were achieving the goal, what they would look like and how others would respond to them. Ask them to provide precise information, or evidence, that the goal has been reached and how things will be different. At this point, they should be able to say that achieving the goal is going to be worth the effort and discomfort.
At this stage, a challenge often encountered is that the vision goal is either too far away, that the customer struggles to gain a sense that they can achieve it, or it is so big that it is overwhelming. For example, the first time a person sets out to run a marathon, it is likely to require at least six months' training and, if they have only run for a bus in the last 15 years, it’ll be challenging to believe it can be achieved.
The vision therefore needs to be broken down into smaller steps on two levels. Firstly, establish the key things that need to be achieved, which are often called outcomes. For example, in setting out for a marathon, these might be running four times a week and eating healthily. These are set over a period of one to three months. Once these have been agreed, break them down further into small weekly actions.
For example, the client states in the first week that she can start by doing a 20-minute run on Tuesday and a 30-minute run on Friday. Break down a large desirable vision into smaller chunks so that it becomes manageable to the client. The important thing is that goals are set on each of the levels, to give motivation and then belief that it can be achieved. By breaking goals down you have the means to measure progress on a regular basis. This is essential for providing feedback to the client which, in turn, increases their belief that they will achieve the goal. When a client believes that they can and will achieve their goal then they virtually guarantee their success.
Be prepared for resistance from your clients. Goal setting is essential for success, but many people see it as setting themselves up for failure – if they have a goal and don’t achieve it, they have failed. If someone never sets any goals, then they can never fail. This is where the notion that there is “no such thing as failure, only feedback” really needs to employed by you, their trainer and goal facilitator.
Source: Fitpro Network