In today’s PT Intel personal trainer Kathleen Trotter discusses managing expectations when setting out to achieve our fitness goals. Besides being a personal trainer, Kathleen lives her advice, having completed 10 (count ’em!) marathons, an Ironman (well, Ironwoman to be more accurate) and 7 half Ironmans. You can also find her on Twitter.
Stop thinking you have to be perfect. No one is perfect. Banish ‘perfection’ from your vocabulary.” Aiming for perfection just sets you up for failure. A goal of being perfect – having the perfect diet or working out every day – can be paralyzing.
Since there is no way to be perfect we do one of two things. Either we consciously or unconsciously let ourselves off of the hook by thinking that we will fail, so why even try? This type of thinking is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Or, we aim for perfection, then when we can’t live up to our unrealistic goals we fall back into our negative health habits. Either way, the main take-away is stop thinking you have to be perfect.
Everyone has habits they find hard to make stick. People who are successful at making long-term lifestyle changes aren’t always successful the first time. They don’t succeed by being perfect, they succeed because they persevere. Health is a process — a non-linear one at that — that takes daily dedication. Be patient. Your negative health habits were not formed in a day – positive health habits will not materialize overnight! Make realistic, sustainable goals!
Part of being successful is taking setbacks in stride. If you fall off the fitness wagon, which will probably happen once or twice, assess why, and then get right back on track. If you make a goal that you don’t stick to, don’t worry. Assess why you did not succeed, then create new goals based on your new-found knowledge.
Part of being successful at goal setting is figuring out what works for you through trial and error. For example, I like to make myself monthly goals. A month is a short enough time frame that the goal is not overwhelming, but long enough that I can feel the impact of the changed habit. That might not work for you. You don’t have to set goals the way that I do. Play around, figure out what works for you. Just take the time to become aware of your current and past habits. Become mindful of how you spend your time and energy.