You’ve been down this road countless times before. How many times have you set a fitness- or health-related goal for yourself, only to never meet it or lose steam and simply give up? At this point, you might have lost faith in goals, chalking it up to the notion that they simply aren’t for you. Before you completely wipe your hands, take a look at how goals can offer benefits you never imagined.
Goals create a roadmap to success
Goals give us something to look forward to whether it’s smaller pants, a bigger bank account, or the ability to let go of a vice. We feel good about ourselves when we achieve a goal, even if it’s something small, like walking up the stairs without being out of breath. Realizing individual successes helps us pave the path to larger achievements. It gives us direction and helps us move closer and closer to where we want to be in life. If you look at your goal as a destination, you will see that there are many paths to take to get there. You may not always go from point A to point B in a straight line, but you will learn a lot along the way and feel great about yourself upon arrival.
Goals help us become better role models
Tackling accomplishments is a surefire way to help you see that it’s okay to believe in yourself. And, when we feel good about ourselves, we are better able to lead those that look to us for guidance. Children often emulate the actions of their parents, so sticking to your goals will teach your children the value of keeping their word and help them see the benefits of hard work, staunch determination, and most importantly, a healthy lifestyle.
Goals affect our mental and physical health
Regardless of what your specific goals are, lack of progression can have a profound effect on your mental health. According to author and psychologist Guy Winch, PhD., failure makes our goals seem tougher to achieve. In a 2013 article, Dr. Winch cites an American study where people were tasked with kicking a football over a goalpost numerous times. Those who failed reported the target as being much further away than those who succeeded. This clearly outlines the connection between success and failure and our perception of the world around us. Not achieving our goals – and especially those that involve our physical well-being – can have a negative effect on our mind and body. Weight loss goals, for example, are often set due to some existing condition, such as obesity or diabetes. Not meeting these goals immediately may exacerbate the problem and send you along a path of discouragement that can lead you deeper and deeper down the corridors of depression, which can actually lead to a host of physical issues (oral hygiene problems, malnutrition, etc.). Set yourself up for success by not allowing quitting to be an option, even if it takes you months or even years to get there, and by choosing healthy eating habits instead of quick-fix, fad diets and approachable, interesting exercise routines you enjoy.
Goals allow us the opportunity to reevaluate our aspirations
Most goals are made on the premise of changing our ways completely. These rarely work out since new habits can take more than two months to become a part of our daily routine, which seems like forever when you want it to happen in a single day. If you have found yourself feeling down and out about not committing hard enough to your goals, it may be time to reevaluate them and replace the unattainable with more realistic actions that will lead to your eventual success.
Goals help us replace negative actions with positive ones
Goals, in particular, those that relate to healthy lifestyle changes, can help us purge ourselves of negative thoughts and behaviors. People battling alcoholism, for example, may set a goal to be sober in six months’ time. Throughout these 180 days, they are offered the opportunity to use the time they would’ve spent drinking to focus on other things, such as family, friends, or their career. If your goal was to get in shape, you may find that you are less stressed, able to keep up with your active friends and children, and can finally experience the view at the top of the mountain you’ve always dreamed of seeing.
Lindsey is the author of A Life Well-Balanced, a lifestyle blog dedicated to helping people live a more balanced life – physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.