THE PROCESS OF GOAL SETTING
When it comes to reaching your fitness goals, there is no quick fix. So how do you set that goal, yet stay focused and motivated in the process knowing that it’s going to take time?
LISTEN ABOVE OR CHECK OUT THE VIDEO (WITH TRANSCRIPT) BELOW TO LEARN:
- HOW to break down the process of goal setting, achieve wins and build the confidence to keep going.
- WHY it’s important to be as specific as possible in defining as to WHAT your goal is.
- ACTIONAL ITEMS to organize and structure yourself so you can achieve these wins that ultimately build up your confidence and crush your goals
James Grage: Welcome to another episode of the Under the Sun podcast, where we talk about everything under the sun, including fitness, nutrition, motivation, business, all that good stuff.
And today we’re gonna talk about something that I get asked a lot and it’s one of these things that is super valuable. Probably the most critical thing when it comes to achieving your fitness goals or actually it’s the most important thing when it comes to achieving any are goals. But it also happens to be the thing that we neglect the most. And that is this process of goal setting.
We all say that we do it, but what I find is that either the process is flawed or incomplete. So a lot of people ask me when I’m setting a new goal for myself, how do I go about goal setting to ensure that I’m successful in reaching?
So I will share with you some of the pitfalls that I have fallen into in the past where I’ve gone wrong and the things that I’ve learned from that and how I go about creating more momentum for myself. More confidence, because it takes confidence to achieve your goals.
Because really a lot of times what stops us from reaching our goals is a lack of confidence. We reached this point where we start to question it, we start to doubt whether we can actually do it. So, what that means that let’s just go ahead and jump right into it.
James Grage: Now I think one of the best lessons that are learned early on happened to come from this car accident that I went through. Some of you guys are familiar with it, some aren’t. But long story short got into a really, really bad car accident, spend a lot of time in the hospital. And coming out of that, a lot of injuries. They kind of pieced me back together like Wolverine. Plates, bolt, screws. And it was one of these things where I didn’t know when I was going to be able to walk again, let alone be able to work out again.
James Grage: And so the process of getting back into the gym and trying to build myself back seemed like a daunting task. And it’s one of those things where when you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, that’s obviously very demoralizing. That’s the opposite of motivation. And so I had to learn some strategies of how to stay motivated in order to ultimately reach my goal.
Because the reality is it took a lot of time. It wasn’t going to be an overnight fix. There was no quick fix. And when it comes to reaching your fitness goals, there is no quick fix. And that’s one of my big pet peeves in the fitness industry is these programs that are touted is, you know, a quick fix or it’s easy or it’s fast and there’s nothing easy or fast about reaching your fitness goals. That doesn’t mean you can’t make progress fast. But to reach your ultimate goal, that’s going to take time. That’s going to take patience.
James Grage: So how do you set that goal? How do you set that bigger goal, yet still stay focused and stay motivated in the process knowing that it’s going to take time?
So going back to being there in the hospital, or coming out of the hospital in this recovery process, I mean you have to picture this:
I went back into the gym on a walker, you know the kind that you see old people use, screws around and even had the little tennis balls on there. But it was worse because I couldn’t hold onto a walker because I had casts on both arms.
So they had these braces that I arrested my forearms and that’s how I would go into the gym. I would scoot in there and so in between my therapy because basically, I was taking everything I was doing in physical therapy and then I would bring it into the gym and do more to try to accelerate my progress.
James Grage: But in between I would sneak over to the cable machine and you know, I could only, I only have two fingers together, because of the casts, and I would grab the rope and I do triceps, push downs and do any kind of exercise that I could and people looked at me like, man, how can you, how do you stay motivated? How do you stay focused on this bigger goal of building yourself back to what you used to be?
And what I learned in that process is that you can’t get hung up on the bigger goal. Because for me, again, that seemed so far away. So out of reach, to be honest. There was even that part of me, they wondered if I ever could reach that goal. So the only thing that I can do is break it down into the smallest goal possible, which was what I could do that day.
James Grage: So for me, the goal was getting into the gym. The goal was getting through a workout. And when I did that, I could check that off the list. And that was a sense of accomplishment.
And so when you achieve smaller goals, more digestible, let’s call it goals, now you’ve got wins. And wins are what builds confidence. We talked about confidence, or what requires confidence to reach your goals. Well, confidence comes from winning. I don’t care what anyone says, like the people that were the most confident have had a lot of successes in their life. And that’s why they believe in themselves so much. So instead of setting yourself up for failure and creating these goals that are so big, it’s like a big chunk that you’ve got to, digest, so to speak. You’re not going to be able to achieve the success that you want.
James Grage: And like we’re talking about just a minute ago, you’re gonna feel demoralized, you’re gonna feel frustrated. And it’s the opposite effect. So if you break it down into smaller goals, that’s how you start to build positive momentum. That’s how you create wins for yourself. And that’s how you create confidence is that I was saying this to someone the other day, it’s that saying of, how do you eat an elephant? Well, one bite at a time.
And it’s the same thing when your goal, so what I see, the biggest mistake I see is trying to break your goal up into too big of chunks. It’s okay to set lofty goals like, I’m a big believer in setting really lofty goals for yourself. Like, set a goal that really challenges you. Don’t sandbag it because there’s no sense of accomplishment there. If you set a goal that is just easy to accomplish, so set a goal that you know is a stretch, that it’s a challenge.
James Grage: There’s nothing wrong with that. But take that bigger goal and now break it into smaller goals. Now take those smaller goals and break those into smaller goals. Break them down into things that are at a minimum daily goal. Ideally, you should take daily goals and break them into things throughout the day.
Like for me, every day I have a list. I have a checklist of things that I want to accomplish that day and every time I scratch off the list I get that sense of accomplishment and I feel like I’m making for progress. When sometimes you don’t feel like it, you don’t feel like you are moving forward, you feel like you’re just spinning your wheels. I don’t know if you guys have ever had one of those days where you’re just like, man, I just, I did so much today, but it felt like I did nothing.
James Grage: And that’s a frustrating feeling. But if you actually have a list of everything that you want to get done and you see all these things crossed off, then you, if you’re reminding yourself that you are making forward progress now all, even sometimes if I do something that’s not on my list and I get it done that day, I’ll go and I’ll write it on the list afterward just so I can turn around and cross it off just for that very reason.
So that’s tip number one: break your big goals down into smaller goals. Now number two, when it comes to setting this bigger goal for yourself or even a smaller goal, most of the time I see people being way too general. For example, let’s talk about fitness. So what’s your fitness goal “Okay, well I want to lose weight”. All right, well that’s super broad.
James Grage: That could mean you want to lose a hundred pounds and give me any, want to lose two pounds, how much weight do you want to lose? So then they narrow it down and then I say, “Okay, well what does that mean to you, Losing that weight”? What does that mean? Well, that means being able to fit into whatever pair of pants that I haven’t worn in five years. Okay, great!
What does that mean to you? Well, fitting those would make me feel better. I guess I would feel more confident. Okay. So what does more confidence mean to you? And ultimately all of this boils down to is, being happy and feeling good about yourself, feeling, maybe it’s even a sense of control in your life. But I’m a big, big believer that not only do you have to be super specific what your goal is in defining that goal as clearly as possible.
James Grage: It’s like a vision, right? Like, I like to build things. I like to build companies. I like to build cars, build houses, build anything. But in order to build it, you have to have a very, very clear picture. Like, use an example of a house.
So first it starts with an idea. You have this idea in your head of what you want it to look like. Then maybe that idea, the first step is taken out of your head and sketching it. Maybe that’s just step number one: to make it a reality right out of your head and now start to clearly define it. So the next set you maybe put it into, you know, CAD software and then you draw a floor plans and now you’re creating an action plan of how you’re actually going to create this thing. And you have to do the same thing with your goals.
James Grage: Clearly defined exactly what it looks like. Don’t be general. Like, imagine if you’re building a house and you just say, well I want to build a house, but that house, well I want it to have a roof. I want to have four walls. Okay, well pretty much most of the houses out there have walls and have a roof. So what do you want that house to look like? What’s your dream house look like? And you have to define that and then once you define that, the next step is creating an action plan. How are you going to build it? and what are all those steps and breaking it down? And thinking about a house, most people, they don’t have to be a builder to know that there are certain logical steps and things that you have to do in order to build a house. You know, starting with the foundation, but from there it’s next step, next step.
James Grage: And you know what I built a house before in, it’s a slow, tedious process that takes a long time and sometimes I can feel very frustrating. But again, if you go back to your checklist and you see all the things that you’ve done, it reminds you that you are making forward progress. So very, very clear vision. You have to define it, then you have to create an action plan.
Now when it comes to goal setting, it’s one thing to set a goal for yourself. It’s another thing to feel motivated enough to go accomplish. The goal and I tell people all the time that want to, I think one of the most important elements in setting a goal for yourself and being motivated is also defining a timeline for yourself. A goal without a timeline is just a wishlist. It’s just a dream like us. Someday I’ll do it.
James Grage: No, you need to set a deadline. Because for me, motivation is not this magical feeling that just comes out of nowhere. Like all of a sudden, Whoa, I’m inspired. I’m so motivated. Like motivation is can be a fleeting thing. Maybe one minute you feel motivated in the next few, you don’t.
It’s like relationships. If you solely relied on being “in love” all the time as the foundation of your relationship, well then you’re going to have problems because you’re not always gonna feel that way. You have to have other things there that are the foundation of your, your relationship. And it’s the same thing when it comes to motivation. Like if you’re just relying on this whimsical feeling of feeling inspired, well that’s fleeting and it’s going to come and go. So what’s going to give you that motivation? Well to me, motivation comes from a sense of urgency.
James Grage: And I’ve described this before when you procrastinate, you think you have so much time. Cause that’s what procrastination is, is thinking we have more time. So to overcome procrastination, we have to create a sense of urgency and we have to give ourselves a limited amount of time.
And to do that we have to create a deadline for ourselves. So it’s a very clear vision. It’s an action plan, and then it’s a deadline. And that deadline has to be something that you really hold yourself accountable to. You don’t like, get halfway there and say, man, you know extend the deadline. Like for me, getting in shape where I’ve gotten into the very best shape and I felt the most motivated and train with the most intensity and was the most dialed in with my nutrition was something where there was a very specific deadline.
James Grage: For example, doing a competition. Well, I signed up for that competition and you know what’s happening on that day with or without you. So if you’re going to do it, you better be ready for that.
So for me, that was one of the keys. It was the same thing. If I had a photoshoot and it was scheduled, I knew that I’d better look ready. I want to show up to that thing and not be ready. So that’s the other key is making sure that you have a very set deadline for it. And it can’t be optional. It just can’t be one of those things that, just because it’s inconvenient, you decided to go ahead and change it. And that brings me to the next one. It’s gotta be a priority. You know, we’ve, we can only fit so many things in our life.
James Grage: There’s room for, for me, and I’m not saying this is everyone, cause everyone’s priorities are different based on maybe where you’re at in life, depending on if you’re younger or older. So for me, the stage that I’m at now as a dad, clearly my kids are a priority. My relationship with my wife is a priority. Business is a priority and fitness as a priority. And then somewhere in there is a mix of having a little bit of a life right? Maybe some travel or hanging out with friends. That’s five things right there. I don’t really have much room for anything else. People asked me, do I watch TV? I don’t have time for TV. I really don’t. Not to accomplish all the things I want to do and to be as good a dad as I can and to have a good relationship as I want or build the business that I want or be in the shape that I want to be in.
James Grage: It’s just not enough time there. So you have to have priorities. So I think it’s important when it comes to goal setting to ask yourself and be super honest with yourself, where that fits into your list of priorities.
So it can’t be just about that one thing. It’s how does it fit into the dynamic of your life. Into everything else that you have going on. Because you can do all those other steps. You could have the very clear vision, you can define it and you can have a deadline and create that sense of urgency for yourself. But if all of a sudden something else takes precedent over it, it becomes more important, higher priority and it falls off your, your top five so to speak. Then there’s a good chance that you’re not going to reach your goal. So you have to be honest with yourself and evaluate all your priorities and say, do I have room for all this?
James Grage: And if you don’t, you have to look at all the things that are taking up your time and your energy, and see if any of those things really are or are not a priority. And I see that a lot.
Not just in people as personalized, but I especially see it in business. It’s so easy to get caught up in things that occupy our time and occupy our energy. And they may be important, they may be things that are worthwhile spending time and energy on. But maybe they’re just not a priority in the grand scheme of everything else that you want to accomplish.
So you have to focus on the things that you really want to accomplish that are priorities to you. And then look at those other peripheral things. And say, okay, well I’m going to push those off the list and I’m not going to let those things derail my progress over here.
James Grage: And that requires a bit of discipline to be able to do that because it’s again, so easy for those things to throw you off course. So those are kind of some of my simple tips when it comes to goal setting. I think another thing that’s important too, and this is a bigger topic but is you gotta be a student in the game and what you’re studying is yourself and your own behavior.
What are your common pitfalls? What are, what are those things where you start to all of a sudden deviate? And we all seem to fall into patterns and it’s so easy and we have a tendency to want to make the same mistakes over and over without realizing. And sometimes we don’t have a very good perspective on it. It’s like work in the clouds. Have you ever had a close family member or a friend say “Yeah. You do that over and over and over”. You’re like, really? Do I look to them.
They’re objective. They’re looking from the outside in. It’s easier for them to see your patterns than it is for you to see your patterns. But it’s important to be introspective and to be able to see those things and say, okay man, I set this goal for me over and over.
Like fitness is a perfect example. If people stick to their fitness plan, why would they need to set it as a new year’s resolution every year over and over and over? Well, that’s because it’s so easy for all of us to to fall off course, so to speak. So what are those things that derail you? Is it not prioritizing properly? Is it the fact that we are too general with our goals? Is the fact that we don’t really have a sense of urgency?
James Grage: We don’t set deadlines for ourselves. So you have to be able to analyze it and figure out where that weak link in the chain is. So being introspective as part of it, you know, being able to look objectively at things. And yeah, I think each of these topics, there’s a lot of probably little nuances that we could talk about, but I want to make this something short and concise.
Something that you could take away and say, “Okay, look, here are some actionable items that I can do”. I can trade this list for myself, and just go down the list. Okay, so number one, what is my goal? Let me break it down into the most specific goal that I can define as clearly as possible. An important part of that is visualizing, in any way that you can, to bring that vision to life.
James Grage: Whether it’s, I mean, look, some people do dream boards. I used to think that stuff was silly to be honest with you. I remember doing it when I was, I dunno, my early twenties and I had a friend whose mom was a motivational speaker and a business consultant.
And so for her close family and friends, she would do this every year. At the end of the year before new year’s. And there was this part at the end where she said, “Okay, well let’s sit on the floor”. And she gave us some scissors and some glue. It was this weird, big stack of magazines. And she said, okay, here’s your poster board and I’m want you to create a dream board. Everything that you want in your life in the next year, five years, 10 years, if you want to do a 15-year plan, but start to put these things on this board.
James Grage: And I roll my eyes like, “Oh my God, really”? But I did it. And the funny thing is I looked at it and when I was done I thought, yes, these are all things that I want, but this is absolutely ridiculous. Like I’m not a, I’m not going to accomplish any of these things. And so I folded it up and I stuck it in a closet. And I remember 10 years later, uh, my mom, cause I had stored a bunch of stuff at her house. My mom said, Hey, you got a bunch of crap. You know at my house, can you come get it So I was opening up boxes and open up this box and fold it and there’s this dream board and I look at this thing and every single thing on that board I had accomplished except for one thing and I put something really ridiculous cause she told us to put something super ridiculous, a really lofty goal and I said, Hey, I want my own Island.
Speaker 1: I don’t have my, I don’t know I but all the other things I accomplished. And so the moral of the story is even sometimes things that seem silly when it comes to defining your goals sometimes are very effective because again, first of all it’s forcing you to now clearly define it, but it’s also taking the next step, which is taking it out of your head in the first step and making it tangible, making it real, which is putting it down on a piece of paper. Something, like I said, anytime it’s out of your head and now it exists in the real world, that’s the first step of it. Just like I said, building a house, the first step is now a set of plans, drawings without those pretty hard to build the house. So without clearly defining and putting on a piece of paper or on your computer, on your phone is pretty hard to accomplish that goal.
James Grage: Now I like to put it on a piece of paper. Why? Because I can hang it on the wall. It’s so easy to put notes on her phone, et cetera. We don’t see it and we’re not reminded of it. And I think it’s important to be reminded of it, especially for that other part of this equation, which is the sense of urgency.
Like for me, I actually like that old thing of taking a calendar, literally crossing off the days, if I’ve got a 60-day goal or a 90-day goal, I like to count out, okay, 90 days. And then I circle it, you know, big red circle. It’s like boom! That’s my deadline right there. And every day I cross it off. So when all I can, I see the days that I’ve done, but I can also count how many days I have left.
James Grage: I’m like halfway. I don’t really have, you know, 45 days left. And it creates that sense of urgency or reinvigorates that sense of urgency because you can have that in the beginning then. So easy for it to just kind of trail off and you don’t feel that pressure anymore. So I am a big believer that a little bit of pressure is a good thing.
Being uncomfortable is a good thing. Just like going into the gym, working out really hard, pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. That’s where change happens. So I’m a big believer that the same thing happens in everything else. You have to push yourself and you have to like to create a little bit of healthy stress. And I’m not saying go around and be stressed out all the time, but if you’re super, super relaxed all the time, there’s a good chance you’re not going to have that sense of urgency, that fire in your belly to go get shit done.
James Grage: So there’s a balance somewhere that I’m trying to pursue, which is not being super crazy, intense, stressed out, trying to accomplish all my goals, like laser-focused intensity. I want to be kind of chill and relaxed and happy and enjoy my life. So somewhere in between, there is a balance and I don’t think it’s a spot in the middle. I think it’s periods of this counterbalanced by periods of that. Uh, and I think that’s always going to be something that’s always constantly in flux and it’s eh, everyday pursuit, this idea of balance.
But my point is that if you’re too chill about things, and relaxed about things, and too comfortable with things, pretty good chance you’re not gonna ready yourself and accomplish some of the bigger goals that you want to accomplish. So that’s it for today.
James Grage: Anyway, this has been the Under the Sun podcast. I appreciate you guys tuning in, really appreciate the community, which is what we’re trying to build here. So thank you very much. If you’re on the Facebook private group, the Undersun Tribe private Facebook group, we’re doing a lot of cool stuff on there. Live Q and A’s, et cetera.
So I encourage you to join it as a private group, so you have to request an invitation and there are some stickies on there of what it takes in order to be invited into that tribe. But, again, that’s what I enjoy, is building that sense of community and it’s an opportunity to have more direct interaction.
So here I’m talking about general topics there we going to dive into live Q and A’s and it’s more one on one interaction. So it’s kind of cool, pretty fun. So I will see you guys next week!