Follow this step-by-step strategy that leads to your goals.

You’ve made it this far with your goals intact, although probably challenged by everyday obstacles. Fitness or weight loss might be one of them. So I’m going to up the ante with a question: Why not get in the best shape of your life now?

The same question applies if your goal is a new career, better parenting or a new skill. As you answer the question, it’s important to think about your strategy and evaluate what factors in your life are driving you. Why not consider your goal a transformation?

It is also important to take time to define your life at full strength. Life at full strength is a life of purpose, in which you are inspired by the energy to achieve what matters most to you. That’s when your strategy to accomplish your transformation begins. Let’s get started.

Create your vision

Think forward to the vision you’d like to create for the next 12 weeks and the next 12 months. What will you be able to accomplish for yourself, your family and your community?  Establishing your vision is an important first step before setting your transformation goals because your vision serves as your compass. It should be a gripping narrative or picture of your life one year from today. It’s not just the things you want; it’s also the feelings, energy and emotions that bring your vision to life. These make a future that pulls you forward with great force.

By creating a vision and then setting specific goals to get you there, you take the power of the transformation process far beyond the physical realm. You’re not just increasing the effectiveness of your workouts or your practice but also your ability to excel in life. Your vision empowers your training, and your training empowers your vision.

Step 1: Preparation

Set aside some uninterrupted time in a place that’s free from distractions to establish a clear vision for your life one year from today. This is your time to paint a vivid picture of your life. Dare to dream big. You’re raising the bar for yourself and your life here. What does that life include? And how do you feel having achieved this vision?

Use your journal or a blank sheet of paper for this exercise. If you write in a dedicated journal reserved for your notes about your transformation, it will be rewarding to look back years from now and see how much you’ve achieved. Before you begin, please recite the following out loud: “I’m free to create my life exactly as I want it to be. There are no limitations. My life is now rewarding and satisfying. I’m filled with joy, gratitude and energy now that these things are true.”

Step 2: Get writing

Raise the bar well above your current existence, and establish a vision that exceeds your know-how and even your current comfort zone so that you’ll be challenged to grow and to reach your next level of excellence. Let your mind flow freely, capturing as many aspects of your vision as possible; you can write single words, short phrases or incomplete sentences—go for quantity. You might want to take several sessions to adequately complete this process.

Tangible rewards like a new career, home, car or dream vacation are terrific, but don’t forget to link them to feelings. Ultimately, it’s the emotion that inspires you to move and to take action. For example:

  • I feel more energy than I have in years.
  • My confidence is soaring; I feel like I can accomplish anything.
  • I feel strong and powerful.
  • I am clear, calm and in control of my life.
  • I feel productive, using my time effectively and efficiently.

Step 3: Narrow it down

When you feel like you’re ready to move on, review your ideas and write down the three to five most compelling, energizing elements.

My most compelling elements are:

  • 1.
  • 2.
  • 3.
  • 4.
  • 5.

If you’re having trouble narrowing your list of ideas, cut those items that don’t produce strong, positive emotions. For instance, I enjoy playing golf, but I’m not especially passionate about it, so being a scratch golfer isn’t going to inspire me to create the energy to fulfill this part of my vision. But if you’re an avid golfer who loves the game and sees it translate into greater business opportunities and a higher quality of life, then being a scratch golfer definitely would be part of a compelling vision for you.

Step 4: Write your powerful vision

Finally, condense those elements into one powerful, clear, concise vision. One thing is certain: If you fail to define your life, life will define you.

Create your 12-week goals

Now it’s time to set your goals for your transformation. Goals are the defined, measurable outcomes you intend to achieve in a given period of time. Too often people see vision and goals as one and the same. Goals are separate but support your vision and must be specific, challenging and meaningful. Part of the reason people don’t set goals is because it’s easy to fail, even though there is nothing more empowering and rewarding than setting and achieving a lofty goal.

One secret to setting and achieving your goals with greater consistency, improved determination—and doing it faster than ever before—is a factor that’s equivalent to the laws of physics. Consider Newton’s law of universal gravitation, which states: “Every object in the universe attracts every other object, with a force that depends upon the object’s mass and distance between them.”

Think of goals as if they were objects, like planets: The more meaningful and important the goal, the larger its “mass.” The further away the goal is in time, the less pull it has, regardless of its importance. Achieving your goals is due in large part to the balance of meaning and significance (mass) with time frame (distance) to create the necessary force of attraction (pull). For example, you might want to sculpt your best body, but if the distance between you and achievement is too great, it will not have the strong, lasting pull necessary to bring you to your goal.

Step 1: Set measurable goals

Numerous studies have made a link between putting your goals on paper and achieving them. It brings them into focus and transfers them from your head into action.

But “I want to get in shape” has no power, no direction behind it. It’s not a goal; it’s a vague wish. Instead, make it specific: You want to go from a size 14 to a size 8 or from a 38-inch waist to a 34-inch waist in 12 weeks. Specificity makes a considerable difference. Be ambitious but realistic.

In addition to a specific milestone, choose a specific timeline. I’ve found there’s nothing more effective for whipping me into shape than the deadline of an upcoming vacation or photo shoot. A deadline creates urgency and helps to prioritize daily activities.

Step 2: Choose four goals for 12 weeks

Set four goals to accomplish in 12 weeks. Make the first two physical goals that can be quantified, such as losing 10 pounds of fat, gaining 3 pounds of muscle, losing 2 inches off your waistline, lowering your cholesterol, decreasing blood pressure or reducing your resting heart rate.

Make the other two goals focus on your inner strength. These are subjectively measured but are no less important; after all, self-improvement is not just physical. Focus on mental and emotional goals such as improving your outlook, attitude, mood or resources. Think of how you deal with stress, interact with loved ones and co-workers or how you deal with adversity. For example, you could improve your relationship with someone important in your life or read a certain number of books, take courses or hire a professional coach to support and challenge you.

List your four goals:

  • Physical Goal 1:
  • Physical Goal 2:
  • Inner-Strength Goal 1:
  • Inner-Strength Goal 2:

Assess your progress on these goals each week. How can you adjust your actions to navigate effectively toward these goals? What do you want to accomplish 12 weeks after you reach these goals? How does that move you toward your 12-month goals?

Together, an inspiring vision and clear goals serve as a blueprint for your lasting success—your choice to live a strong life, however you define it. It’s the life you’re most drawn to live, a brilliant future that pulls you forward each day with great force.

Photo credit: ThinkStock, criene