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newsletter Oct 26, 2023

The Art of Goal Setting

Wants, needs, and the path forward.

By Devya Fluckiger

  • Goal Setting is an artform amidst the science of coaching.
  • A client’s wants may conflict with physiological needs.
  • Focusing on one health category at a time is efficacious for achieving long-term balance of health, performance, and aesthetics. 

Needs Enable Wants

Committing to a single goal at any one time is difficult for a client to adhere to, without education on priorities. Does the client want to perform better? Feel healthier? Increase strength? Lose fat? Gain muscle? Typically, a coach will hear, "I want it all!" 

Any fitness professional worth their salt knows that, logically, it is not realistic to pursue all avenues simultaneously. It is imperative to educate a client as to the benefits of triaging specific goals over others that may seem more superficially appealing.  

Creating Clarity

Each goal may fall under three main categories of wellness: 

  1. Health - ie. "I’ve been under-eating and I need a regular period because I am trying to have kids".
  2. Performance - ie. "I am struggling to increase my lifting numbers and I have a powerlifting meet next year".
  3.  Aesthetics - ie. "I want to lose 5% body fat”.

Typically, the longer one pursues any of the three options, the less of a priority the other two become. However, at any given time, goals can coincidentally compliment one another. For example, when one addresses health and hormonal function, chances are that performance will improve. The level of extreme with which one goal is pursued can be a contributing factor. For the sake of simplicity, it bodes well to focus on one area and allow another to improve as a positive side effect. You only shoot one bullet at a time after all.

It’s helpful to educate a client on prioritizing one goal at a time. “What is the most substantial issue right now Betty? Perhaps before pursuing a sub 20% body fat, let's work on establishing a regular period first and get those binge episodes under control.” 

A client will have more clarity in goal selection when educated on the ramifications of picking one goal over the other. For example, during an intake many clients vocalize the desire to attain aesthetics first and foremost over hormone balance, despite the clear need for the latter upon initial assessment. 

“Hey Betty, based on your intake, you are showing signs of hormonal dysregulation as evidenced by your energy crashes, constant cravings and binges, as well as your body holding onto stubborn belly fat despite eating 1200 calories. If we were to further drive you into a calorie deficit, your current symptoms may worsen and introduce new ones.”

Choose the right Path

A committed client will realize the feasibility of achieving an equilibrium of all three with time. Furthermore, sound coaching will encourage client maturity in opting to have their healthful needs take the lead over unrealistic goal setting.  

  • Focus on one goal at a time.
  • Periodically revisit goals and adjust course accordingly. 
  • The 3 pillars of wellness can be met in a seasonal approach.