Tips for Behaviour-Based Goals

 In Blog

New year, new goals! I love the idea of behaviour-based goals rather than outcome-based goals.

Are your goals outcome-based? Examples of outcome-based goals are:

  • Losing 10 pounds
  • Doing a pull up or 10 pull ups
  • Running 5K or a marathon
  • Getting a good sleep every night

One issue with outcome-based goals is that we cannot actually control the outcome. We can only control our behaviour.

Take finances, for example. You could have a goal of paying off the mortgage. That would be great, but what if you can’t control the interest rates when it is time to re-finance? What you can control, perhaps, is how much money you save from every pay check. If you save money every month, this behaviour will like lead to being in a good place financially, and someday lead to paying off the mortgage.

Here are some tips when it comes to making behaviour-based goals.

1. Be specific

Choose a specific behaviour that you can focus on carrying out. Success will be determined by whether or not you complete the behaviour. Consistent application of that behaviour will likely result in the overall outcome you are looking for, but success is not dependent on that outcome.

For example, when it comes to nutrition, you can resolve to plan your meals for the week, or drink a certain amount of water per day, or eat protein with every meal. It is easy to see if you succeeded at your goal by completing these behaviours. Consistently completing these behaviours will likely lead to weight loss, but that is a side-effect.

Instead of resolving to get a good sleep, which may or may not happen, you CAN resolve to get to bed by 10 pm, or to limit screens after 9 pm, avoiding caffeine after 4 pm, etc. If you apply good sleep hygiene behaviours, the side effect will likely be a good night’s sleep most of the time. The success is about the behaviour.

Many people would love to perform a pull up. Hiring a personal trainer and showing up to your sessions is the behaviour that you can control. Doing the work each week will likely result in the ability to one day do a pull up. Most certainly you will see strength gains and improved mobility from doing the work consistently.

2. Know your why

With any goal, it is important to know your why. This will keep you motivated to pursuing this change. It will also help you prioritize what is most important when you have to make choices.

For example, if you plan to get up early and go running but you also want to stay up late to watch a movie, it may be hard to choose to NOT stay up late unless you know your why: That being in good shape is very important to you.

Having a great coach can also help keep you motivated!

3. Think long term

Choose behaviours that you will be able to sustain for the long term. Is it reasonable to workout 3 days a week forever? Yes, it sure is. Of course, you can take a day or a week off here or there. But in general, yes, you can workout three days a week. That is a reasonable long term behaviour.

Let’s consider other reasonable long term behaviours. Could you resolve to cook a homemade meal “x” number of days per week instead of eating out? Yes, with proper planning.

Could you resolve to plan a menu for the week and shop for all the food you need? Yes, that is a sustainable long-term behaviour.

Could you resolve to drink more water every day? Yes, that is a healthy long term behaviour.

Healthy living is not just about reaching a certain outcome and then stopping what you did to get there. You want to be able to keep up your behaviour-based goals long term. They will become a habit!

4. Set yourself up for success

Think about what you need to happen to carry out the behaviours. It is one thing to say, “I am going to replace eating out with eating home-cooked meals”, but then someone has to do the cooking and the shopping. You need a plan for this to happen.

Hiring a trainer will help with accountability and having a workout plan! The most successful clients are simply those who show up consistently. Have a plan to keep your appointment and arrive on time.

5. Learn from slip ups

Life happens, and if you miss one of your targets, whether it is nutritional, exercise or sleep, it is good to evaluate what you could have done differently to make it go better next time. But don’t give up. Get right back on track. It is not about being perfect. Remember that consistency is better than perfection. Use phrases like “most of the time”. Say: “I <insert behaviour here> most of the time”.

6. Enjoy the journey

Finally, behaviour-based goals are all about the journey. There can be wins every day.

To set up a free consultation for personal training and coaching contact us!


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