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Goal based exercise therapy- micro goals.

So far within this series, we have discussed the importance of working toward a clear and tangible goal as an effective strategy for pain management. We have also discussed how being adaptable and playing with certain variables can help you exercise at a demand that is tolerable.

In this post, you will learn:

· Why breaking your overarching goal into several micro goals is important.

· How to create your goal ladder.

· How to consistently “over achieve” on your goals.

How do you eat an elephant?

You may have heard the saying. How do you eat an elephant?..... One bite at a time.

What does this really mean?

If you followed my recommendations in my previous post on how to choose your goal- you would have “aimed high” and picked a goal which is well outside of your current abilities.

This is your metaphorical elephant.

So, the key is how to turn your elephant into manageable “bites” along the way. How do you turn your big goal into smaller, more achievable goals.

The benefits of micro goals

When you tackle big goals in manageable steps- the following happens:

· You get a sense of achievement

· You stay motivated

· You dramatically reduce the risk of flare-ups

· The positive feedback strengthens you to tackle the next step

When you fail to break your main goal down into smaller goals- you risk the following of happening:

· Falling short and feeling disheartened

· Losing motivation

· Increase your risk of flare-ups.

· Giving up

But you can avoid this when you effectively plan your micro goals.

Climb your goal ladder

When you use a ladder- you want one with enough steps and with each step at a manageable distance from each other. This makes for an easy ascent with very little risk of injury.

Reaching your goals is much like climbing a ladder. Each step on the ladder is a micro goal.

The skill lies in placing the steps on the ladder at a point that is easily manageable and not too much of a leap.

Let’s put this into context:

Charlie is 42 and has a history of back issues but wants to qualify for the regional competitions in cross-fit for his age category.

He knows that this is “aiming high” and has to adapt a lot of his exercise for his current back issues.

The first step is to find a tangible and clear goal that he can work toward which is “doable”.

There are 10 men in his club which are in his age category and he is consistently in the bottom 5 during in-house competitions.

He decides that he would like to be in the top 5 in the next in-house competition which is in 12 weeks.

He notes that his Olympic lifting is his weakest scoring aspect in Crossfit and so tries to improve the weight lifted in these lifts by 5 % in 4 weeks and 10% in 8 weeks.

This will require working on specific aspects of mobility and technique which will keep him focused.

Can you see what we did there?

Charlie took a big goal and reverse engineered it to a smaller and much more manageable one.

He now has something specific which will move him forward, make him stronger and will give him a sense of achievement in a realistic time frame.

Charlies goal ladder now looks like this:

Mobility and technique work for Olympic lifting-->5% improvement in 4 weeks-->10% improvement in 8 weeks-->top 5 for age group in in-house competition-->recalibrate goal.

Charlie has taken his elephant and is tackling it one bite at a time.

The likelihood here is that Charlie will overdeliver on these goals because they are more than manageable! Especially if he is following the rules set out in the previous post.

Overdelivering will give Charlie an abundance of positive feedback which will give him the confidence, momentum and resilience to tackle his next micro goal successfully.

In conclusion

Tackle your goals by creating smaller, more manageable steps that you can overdeliver on. The by-product of working toward and achieving these micro goals will give you an abundance of positive benefits both physically and psychologically.

Thanks for reading.

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