Goal Setting

The most important step in achieving anything significant is sitting down and setting goals.  One trait that all my successful clients share is setting goals with timelines and reasoning behind them.  I personally set goals in several areas of my life as a way of gauging progress and holding myself accountable.  Here, I break down goal setting into an easy to follow process.

First, you need to brainstorm; start by asking yourself the following questions and writing down the answers.

What do you really want to achieve?

  • Put more thought into this than simply writing down things like “gain 20 pounds of muscle” or “bench 350#”.  Goals should be personally significant and should reflect .  Superficial goals like “look good naked” or “get ripped” don’t evoke the kind of commitment necessary to see it through the good and bad times.

What are your weak points?

  • Be honest.  Ask yourself the following questions: What you like to do the least? What area, if improved, will make the biggest impact?  If these questions are answered honestly they will all leave you with the same 2-3 areas to focus on.  It may be nutrition or daily habits, or something as simply as honesty.  Think big; if you don’t have the basics covered the details are irrelevant.


What is the timeline?

  • Any goal without a timeline or due date is a wish or hope, and will never actually happen.  Timeline’s shouldn’t be random, realistically think how long it should take to accomplish something and then add 50%.


********Break larger goals into smaller, short-term goals.  Most people have a finite amount of free will to contribute to changing daily habits.  Too extreme of changes will lead to burnout. By accomplishing small victories you will find the constant stream of motivation necessary to tackle larger, more complex goals.

Turn your 2-3 big goals into outcome-based goals

Outcome goals are:

  1. Specific and measurable (i.e. gain 5 pounds of muscle in two months, lose 4% body fat in 6 weeks, etc)
  2. Realistic (you’re not going to lose 25 lbs in one month)
  3. Have a specific timeline (no more than 90 days; 30 -60 days is best)



  1. Gain 5 pounds of muscle in the next 90 days
  2. Increase deadlift by 30 pounds
  3. Increase power-endurance – 2000m row = sub 7:00


Change outcome goals to behavior goals

There is no way to track outcome goals on a daily basis.  These goals are too abstract and far-reaching.  Instead, you need to focus on modifying daily behaviors.  Take each outcome goal and change it into 1-2 manageable behavior changes that will lead to accomplishing your goal.  Behavior goals should be:

  1. Behaviors that can be tracked daily
  2. Specific to each outcome goal


Below I provide you with an example of converting outcome goals into specific behavior goals.  Make sure and find a goal for each of the three categories.  You may make two goals for an area you especially struggle in.  Don’t ignore any category; all are equally important.

Outcome Goals

  1. Gain 5 pounds of muscle in the next 90 days
  2. Increase deadlift by 30 pounds
  3. Increase power-endurance – 2000m row = sub 7:00


Behavior Goals

  1. Nutrition based goal(s)  – Eat according to nutrition plan 90% of time
  2. Recovery based goal(s)  – Get 8 hours of sleep every night
  3. Exercise based goal(s)  – Execute every detail of training program for 60 days; train 4 days per week


************If you find that you don’t have the required knowledge to achieve your desired outcome goals, your behavior goals should be to seek out that information.  For example, if I didn’t know how to eat to gain the desired amount of muscle my behavior goal would be: search out expert nutrition coaching and sign up.  The same is true for any other area in which you lack the information needed to succeed.

Track Behaviors

Write down these 3-4 behaviors and track them religiously with a simple tracking sheet (like the one below).  If you are not complying at least 90% of the time, you can’t accurately determine if your programming or nutrition is working.  Think of it like a scientific experiment; if you don’t control the outside variables there is no way to know if the outcome was influenced by other factors (i.e. lack of needed daily calories to sufficiently recover).

Plan mini breaks and vacations – things to keep in mind

Breaks will keep you sane and on course with your goals. For example, I often plan 1-2 weekends per month in which I eat without any nutritional constraints and don’t do anything associated with work.  I always come back from these weekends feeling refreshed and motivated.

Set Rewards and punishments for achieving/not achieving goal.  Rewards create additional motivation when things get really tough.

An example that I’m currently using is:

  • Reward – 3-day ski trip to Jackson Hole
  • Punishment – cancel internet (try to make these constructive; chose to eliminate things that may hinder your ability to reach goals)


Rewards are nice

Rewards are nice

Repeat and transfer to other facets of life

You can use this process to make major changes, but don’t be in a hurry to do so.  It takes around two weeks for new behaviors to become habits; the other six weeks should be used to cement these habits.  Think of this process as a never-ending method of self-improvement.  You should not discard your new habits after achieving your goals.  Instead, build even more productive habits every goal cycle and pretty soon you will be much more productive.

This process can be used to set goals in any area of life; and I would highly suggest doing so. When challenging projects are broken down into manageable daily tasks they become much easier to accomplish.  Instead of feeling unsure of how to change things in your life, you can take command and routinely accomplish more than you previously thought possible.