by Paul Dunn on
Tags: Personal Trainer
Categories: Industry Insight
7 Powerful Principles of Goal Setting
In part one of this three part series on goal setting, I reviewed; the purpose of goal setting, types, of goals, duration of goal achievement (short, medium, long term goals), and how to make goals SMART. In this instalment of How to Set Real Resolutions we will explore seven powerful principles of goal setting.
Goals have a pervasive influence on member and client behaviour, clients and members join gyms and take part in exercise and healthy eating plans for different reasons. Personal Trainers, by nature are motivated individuals, adhering to goals is likely to be easier due to higher levels of commitment, confidence and self efficacy to achieve health and fitness goals. Clients on the other hand, will have; varied levels of motivation, experience with exercise or healthy eating, varied levels of confidence, and self-efficacy. Part of our role, as fitness professionals, is too support clients who take part in physical activity with effective goal setting.
Under the right conditions, goal setting can be highly motivating for; gym members, clients, and anyone who is working towards an agreed outcome. Clients who are provided goals that are; specific, difficult, but attainable perform better than those given; easy, non-specific, or no goals at all. As we know from part one, the client must have the self-belief, and ability to accept the agreed goal, and receive feedback related to performance. The following list provides practical suggestions for Personal Trainers to consider when using goal setting to enhance motivation and performance. As I discussed in part one, SMART goals have a purpose. Edwin Locke and Gary Latham (1990), leaders in goal setting theory completed nearly 400 studies into goal theory, defining a goal as “what the individual is consciously trying to do”. There are two important determinants of behaviour when we discuss goals: personal values and intentions (goals).
Values: Are important lasting beliefs or ideals that people consider to be; good, bad, desirable, or undesirable. Values will highly influence behaviour and attitude towards exercise and serve as broad guidelines towards exercise or healthy eating.
8 Examples of Exercise & Diet Values
- Eating fresh food and cooking with the family.
- Exercising 3 times a week to maintain a long healthy life.
- Encouraging my family to be active and sociable.
- To be mobile and flexible to avoid joint pain in later life.
- To maintain healthy body fat levels and avoid unhealthy weight gain.
- To eat well balanced meals to help maintain an active lifestyle.
- To have a muscular and strong physique.
- To have a slim, strong physique
Intentions: An intention is the idea or what you plan to do. If you mean something, it’s an intention. Your goal; purpose, or aim, is your intention. It is something you intend to do, whether you pull it off or not. If you value having visible abs in your life and see it as an important part of who you are or what your social group feels is important, you may intend to workout regularly until you achieve it (goals).
8 Examples of Fitness Intentions
- Hold a plank for 2 minutes.
- Complete 20 minutes of HIIT training 5 days a week.
- Attend 2 boot camp classes every week.
- Meet my friends at the gym every Tuesday and Thursday.
- Complete 3 strength workouts every week.
- Attend a weekly Yoga class.
- Attend a weekly Pilates class.
- Attend a weekly Personal Training session.
Below provides a simplified overview of their work and how values and intentions (cognitive determinants) can influence behaviour to achieve outcomes (goals).
Figure1: Locke 7 Latham (1990) General mode of goal-setting theory.
7 Principles of Goal Setting
1. Say What you Want, not What you Want to Avoid
Use positive language to set mindset, this helps to put the client in the right emotional state to achieve the goal. For example; “I will avoid gaining body fat” should be replaced with “I will improve my body fat percentage”.
2. Make Goals Challenging but Realistic
Goals should be achievable based on the capability and experience of the client. Setting goals that are beyond the perceived and actual capability of the client can cause stress, due to fear of failure, or overtraining in an attempt to improve their performance or progress. In turn, goals that are too easy will lower client motivation.
3. Influence the Results Directly
All goals must be under the control of the client and not the actions of the trainer. Set goals that always start with “I” and be in the present tense, such as “I will squat correctly by practicing three times a week”. This goal is specific to the client and focuses on their improved ability. It’s better to focus on the clients improvement than performance against someone else due to the difference in progress and capabilities of different clients.
4. Measure Progress
Goals should always have timelines with specific dates to aim for, e.g. “I will squat 50kg consistently for 3 sets of 10 with good form over 6 weeks by January 31st 2018. This is also where short, medium, and long term goals provide a vision of the clients progress and how they will achieve it.
5. Check Resources
Identify the available support for achieving the goal. This includes friends; family, training partners, gym services, educational material, video, blogs, pictures, feedback, equipment. This also includes the basics; having the right gym kit, trainers, a planned diary, food shopping lists, and cooking skills.
6. Count the Cost
This relates to the sacrifices and adjustments the client will make to achieve the goal. These changes need to be agreeable with the client to ensure enjoyment of their new plan. Make too many sacrifices and the plan could be become un-enjoyable and boring. Clients still need to feel they can enjoy life outside the gym, or the food they eat.
7. Provide Rewards
Achieving goals should be celebrated and recognised, although you must avoid rewards that indulge the previous bad habits. Rewards could include; Muscle Food vouchers, an Athlete Perks membership, supplement vouchers, a free months membership at a gym, a free personal training session added to their next plan renewal, a piece of gym clothing, or a gift from a local business you have set up a reward scheme with.
Now that we have reviewed how to set goals, and the determinants that can impact their outcome, we must review goals. Client progress should be monitored regularly, this can be done by; tracking training sessions, speeds, distances, weight lifted, weight lost, or body fat lost. The list can continue based on individual goals. The two reasons we monitor goals regularly are:
Accountability: Taking time to reflect on progress can provide important feedback about how the client is coping with their new plan, spur on motivation and self-accountability. Clients must take responsibility for their progress.
Feedback: Reviewing goals, will allow you as the trainer and the client to evaluate; how SMART and effective the goals are, what’s working, and what needs to change.
During the goal setting process, review dates should be scheduled to give you and the client a clear date to aim for. Setting; short, medium, and long-term goals are very helpful for this. For example, a 12 week training plan may have review dates in week; 4, 8, and 12 as medium term goals that have weekly process goals to achieve the outcome goals at the review points of those weeks. These check ins will also help revise goals based on client performance, providing opportunity to; modify training, exercises, shopping lists for food, or even set a higher, and in some cases a more achievable goal for the next phase of your clients training plan.
Ok, that’s a wrap on the principles of goal setting for Part Two. While I write part 3, you may want to consider:
Why it's important for a client to take personal responsibility for their goals? What is a long term goal? What does SMART mean? Can you write a smart goal? What are the benefits of setting goals? What is the purpose of setting goals? Why people might not set goals?
Part three of Setting Real Resolutions will provide insight to further goal setting strategies, you as a trainer can implement with your clients to increase goal achievement, and a list of template goals you can amend. Ultimately, being an expert in goal setting will provide a portfolio of clients that consistently achieve goals, these clients will become your raving fans, advocates of your personal training skills, and help fill your diary by attracting new clients for a job welldone!
Thanks again for reading, you can visit our website for more details on our Personal Training Diploma. We will be sharing daily PT Skills information on our social pages too; do join us on Facebook, twitter, and Instagram, a like and a share would be very appreciated as always.
PT Skills Founder & Tutor
#AimHigher with #PTSkills
Bandura, A. (1986). Social foundations of thought and action. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Bandura, A. (1997). Self-efficacy: The exercise of control. New York, NY: W. H. Freeman.
Button, S., Mathieu, J., & Zajac, D. (1995). Goal orientation in organizational behavior research. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 67, 26-48.
DuBrin, A. J. (2012). Essentials of management. Mason, OH: Cengage South-Western.
Greenberg, J. (2011). Behavior in organizations (10th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Herzberg, F. (2009). One more time: How do you motivate employees? Cambridge, MA: Harvard Business School Press.
Kristof-Brown, A. L., & Stevens, C. K. (2001). Goal congruence in project teams: Does the fit between members’ personal mastery and performance goals matter? Journal of Applied Psychology, 86(6), 1083-1095.
Latham, G. P. (2003). Goal setting: A five-step approach to behavior change. Organizational Dynamics, 32(3), 309-318.
Locke, E. A., & Latham, G. P. (1990). A theory of goal setting and task performance. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Locke, E. A., & Latham, G. P. (2002). Building a practically useful theory of goal setting and task motivation. American Psychologist, 57(9), 705-717.
Luthans, F. (2011). Organizational behavior (12th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.
Maslow, A. H. (1970). Motivation and personality (2nd ed.). Reading, MA: AddisonWesley.
Newstrom, J. W. (2011). Organizational behavior (13th ed.). New York, NY: McGrawHill.
Skinner, B. F. (1979). The shaping of a behaviorist. New York, NY: Knopf.
Van Yperen, N. W., & Janssen, O. (2002). Fatigued and dissatisfied or fatigued but satisfied? Goal orientations and responses to high job demands. Academy of Management Journal, 45(6), 1161-1171.
VandeWalle, D. (2001). Goal orientation: Why wanting to look successful doesn’t always lead to success. Organizational Dynamics, 30(2), 162-171.
VandeWalle, D., Brown, S., Cron, W., & Slocum, J. (1999). The influence of goal orientation and self-regulation tactics on sales performance. Journal of Applied Psychology, 84, 249-259.
VandeWalle, D., Cron, W. L., & Slocum, J. W. (2001). The role of goal orientation following performance feedback. Journal of Applied Psychology, 86(4), 629-640.
Vroom, V. H. (1994). Work and motivation. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.