Goal Setting, is it a good thing?

Today I have a guest post from the lovely Clare from the blog Exercise and Mental Health. I got in touch with Clare and asked if she would like to do a  blog post about creating goals and how mental health can effect creating goals. 


Most people set goals to some degree in everyday life whether it be to get a certain job, travel to a particular country or buy a house but when it comes to fitness should you do it too? My opinion is yes absolutely! Having a goal gives you something to aim for and keeps you on track. When you have down days, can’t be bothered or a ‘better offer’ than going to the gym comes along it can keep you focused. Thinking of how good you’ll feel when you hit that target weight or get into that special outfit is usually enough motivation for most people. 

But if you suffer from a mental health illness such as depression or anxiety can it still be as beneficial? Well now I think it becomes a little bit more cloudy, yes totally still set goals but generally be more aware that it may take you a little longer to reach them and the effect that can have. If you already experience anxiety and stress then setting a goal you may feel under more pressure and this can cause anxiety and stress if you already experience these, or even if you don’t. Everybody is different and there is by no way a one sizes fits all approach to anything and it all depends on the extent of your illness, the goal you set and the way you handle things. If you do set yourself a goal and then for whatever reason you don’t achieve it will that be detrimental and put back your recovery? You need to be aware of your illness and how you cope with different situations and if you have your illness under control, have a good support network around you and are confident you can make your goal then yes absolutely, go for it as the feeling of achieving it can be amazing, it can make you feel so good. Support is crucial, tell your friends and family your goals and plans and get them involved, take them to the gym or to a class, it will make it more fun and if it’s more fun you’re more likely to stick at it and succeed.

Of course, all of this is just my opinion but it does come from my own experience. I was diagnosed with depression four and half years ago although looking back I had struggled for a long time before that. It felt good and still does to actually have an answer for how I am and that I’m not alone and that in itself has given me a lot of strength and be able to look in the right places for help. I’m pretty lucky now to mostly have it under control, as anybody in a similar situation knows I feel I’m probably never going to be totally free of it but understanding it goes a very long way to helping. Along with that, I put most of my change of outlook down to the fact that I started to exercise, I’ve lost a lot of weight which increased my confidence. I have set a lot of goals along the way, some I’ve achieved some I haven’t. For the ones I haven’t yes it did knock me down and make me feel bad but as with almost everything those feelings are temporary and once I accepted that my mind can re-focus and set a new goal and make a plan on how to achieve it. That is also an important part, making a plan, you might say you have a goal to visit Australia for example but if you don’t plan to work hard, save ‘x’ amount of money etc you have no plan as to how you’re going to make it happen and therefore more likely to not reach your goal so the same can be said for fitness goals. As part of my training as a gym instructor and personal trainer, I’ve learned that you need to and need to encourage clients to set 

S.M.A.R.T goals.

S = specific goal, so instead of saying ‘I want to lose weight’ say ‘I want to lose 10lbs’

M = measurable, so for losing weight it’s measurable by checking your weight on a set of scales

A = achievable, so don’t say something like ‘I want to lose three stone by this time next week’, it’s very unlikely to happen therefore not achievable

R = relevant, something relevant to you, not your partner or your best mate.

T = time bound, set yourself a time limit to achieve your goal, again a realistic time limit, not too short but also not so long that you don’t really have the motivation to get to work on it.

So an example of an S.M.A.R.T goal would be ‘I’m going to run at least half the distance of this year’s Lincoln 10k’ that ticks all of the boxes.

I’ve set myself some goals, some probably without even realising it. The first one was to actually get moving and attend my first exercise class which was Zumba, I was scared, I took four friends with me and I loved it, gradually they stopped going and I made friends with other people that were there and everything started from there. Then I joined a gym but for a long time I didn’t really do anything then three years ago I set myself the goal of taking on a program called the ’12 week challenge’ it was three months of personal training and group sessions with a gym instructor. I was really doubtful I could do it, I knew the other people taking it on and they were all fitter than me. But from chats with some of them and my class instructor, I soon realised they felt the same and we all just needed to work together and focus on our own goals. Through that program, I lost 20lbs and my confidence skyrocketed and I the began to train as an instructor to help people the same way it and my instructor had helped me.

Last year I set myself the goal to take part in Cancer Research’s Pretty Muddy, not only did that involve running but climbing over obstacles and for someone that has always had trouble trusting her own body that was scary. In comparison to other obstacle courses, it’s small but it was huge to me. I did it and not only that I loved it and I can’t wait to take my friend round it this year. I’m setting myself a goal of getting round an obstacle course that’s bigger and harder.

We all need goals in in all aspects of life no matter how big or small and it might be something as simple as trying to leave the house and that in turn gives you the motivation to get out of bed each day. Or it might be that you want to run a marathon and that gives you the motivation to go out running in all weathers, turning down social events so you can train.

So go set yourself some goals, smash them and feel great about it and yourself, you deserve it.

If you have loved reading Clare’s post then please go over and check out all her social media links which are below. I hope this post was some help and you get something out of reading the post. 

Clare’s – Facebook / Twitter / Instagram  / blog

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