Sam Wood’s 7 tips to set fitness goals you’ll actually keep

As one of Australia’s top health and fitness experts, Sam Wood knows a thing or two about smashing fitness goals.

The man behind the hugely successful online training program, 28 By Sam Wood has been helping people meet their goals for years.

Speaking on Body+Soul’s daily podcast Healthy-ish, Wood explains that learning to be disciplined about your goals can have knock on effects in the rest of your life.

“I’ve just been the well-being coach for ANZ as part of their ANZ Financial Well-Being Challenge and it was amazing how many parallels there were with setting goals when it came to your finances, as it was with your fitness,” he tells host Felicity Harley on the Healthy-ish episode Sam Wood on setting fitness goals you’ll actually keep.

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So whether you’re saving for an *astronomically priced* house (given today’s housing market) or trying to create sexy abs, here’s how to make yourself follow through on it.

Tip 1: Set a goal

It seems obvious, but unless you know what you’re striving for it will be hard to get there.

“Whether it’s getting on top of your finances, saving money to buy a house or trying to lose 10 kilos…whatever it might be, I really think it can help,” Wood says.

However, as with all things, keep a balanced mindset in the way you approach them.

“I don’t think you want to become obsessive with it…life throws all kinds of curveballs at us, especially, I think, over the last 12 months in particular.”

Tip 2: Break your goal into smaller milestones

“I think I think the biggest mistake people make is they probably set too big a goal that’s too far away and they don’t have the little micro goals that are going to help develop habits,” Wood explains.

He says that rather than looking at your goal like a huge mountain to climb, breaking it down into achievable chunks will help you remember to celebrate the little wins.

“When you do that and you lose your four, five, six kilos, it reinforces first of all, that you can do this, it makes the bigger goal smaller and feel more achievable.”

Smaller goals also help to create more frequent moments where you can reassess what habits are working or not working, so you can adjust your process for better results.

Tip 3: Allow appropriate time to achieve your goals

Setting goals you need to have deadlines that come up often, so you can continue to celebrate the little wins. However, we also need to ensure that we’re not setting unrealistic timelines.

“I feel like working in a four week block or a six week block is short enough to keep your eye on the prize, but long enough that you can actually see a result,” Wood says.

“If you’re working in one week blocks as a goal that can be a bit challenging because you might not see that key result.”

Tip 4: Keep your focus to a few key things

Don’t try and save for a house, lose 10 kilos, learn to drive, read a challenging novel and study rocket science all at once. Not surprisingly, having too many goals can be detrimental to their success.

“So many of us are all or nothing people. So we go from doing very little to trying to probably take on too much. And it’s a little bit overwhelming. Takes too much time. We’re too physically sore or exhausted,” says Wood.

“Before we know it, we’re back to sitting on the couch doing nothing again and it hasn’t necessarily been a successful attempt.”

He recommends keeping your focus on one to three things and no more.

Tip 5: Focus on the process not the results

While we set goals to get results, your milestone goals along the way shouldn’t be results based.

For example, if you want to lose 10kg, your milestone goals might be ‘exercise five days a week and eat clean lunches and dinners’. That action will eventually get you to your main goal.

If the goal is the process, you’re much more likely to get the result.

“There’s a myriad of different ways you can do it, but just focus on the process and then the results will come. If you’re too obsessive about the result and you’re jumping on the scales every single day or you’re checking your bank balance every single day, you’re not going to get very far,” Wood explains.

“Then once a month or once a fortnight, perhaps you jump on the scales. And that’s a really good way to validate that what you’re doing is working and to motivate you to keep doing what you’re doing.”

Tip 6: Find a way to hold yourself accountable

Wood explains his theory on goals and accountability with the Hawthorne effect, named after the scientist who studied it.

“He discovered that if you write something down, you’re three times more likely to achieve it and if you share it with at least three people, you’re 10 times more likely to achieve it. There is really something in that, sharing with people that genuinely want the best for you.”

“As much as it can make you feel a bit uncomfortable because you’re really putting yourself out there, it’s much, much harder to quit or to give in if you’ve shared it with people that are really close to your little circle.”

Tip 7: Your fitness discipline will help you in all parts of your life

Apply what you’ve learnt to other parts of your life to meet goals there.

“You know, I’ve always, always sort of marveled how there are so many parallels between success with your body and your health and success in business,” Wood says.

“Developing these good habits really does help you in all facets of your life. The same the same rules and the same structure and the same routine will help you in all areas.”

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