How to Set Goals Like a Pro to Set Yourself Up For Success

“A Goal Properly Set is Half Way Reached”

-Zig Ziglar

 January is the unofficial “It’s time to get back in shape” month every year. Law Enforcement work is a physically demanding job, and the New Year is a great time for any Police Officer to reevaluate their physical preparedness. In order to help Officers working to get back in shape, Premeditated Fitness is featuring a series of articles on Goals this month. Last week we talked about why Goals trump Resolutions. Today we will look at how to set goals that position yourself for success.

GPS – Enter Your Destination

You’re familiar with the GPS app on your phone. You plug in where you want to go and your phone spits directions out at you. We will be using a GPS analogy all month to describe goals. In this instance, setting your goals is like entering your desired destination in your GPS. It’s where you want to go. When you enter a destination into your GPS, you have to choose just one destination and be specific about it. The same will apply to your goals.

What is The Most Important Thing?

When you plug a destination into your GPS, you have to pick one location. You can’t simultaneously get directions to Chicago, Oklahoma City, and Seattle; you have to pick one destination. Likewise, when looking at physical training, you may want to lose weight, get stronger and gain muscle, but you can’t set goals for all of the above at the same time. You have to decide what is the most important thing to you. That will become your “Destination Goal”. Every other goal you set will be a “Pitstop Goal” – a smaller goal that helps you reach your destination.

Not sure where to start? The hierarchy for law enforcement physical fitness goals that I recommend is as follows:

  1. Fat Loss – If you are overweight make losing fat and decreasing your waistline your destination.
  2. Strength – If your weight is in check but you aren’t strong, make getting stronger your destination.
  3. Gain Muscle – If you are strong and lean, adding muscle mass is the next destination.
  4. Endurance – If you are strong and have been packing on muscle, increasing endurance is the final destination.

Once you have chosen your Destination Goal you must Ruthlessly Eliminate all other physical training goals to avoid getting off course. Your Destination Goal is your focus until you reach it.

SMART Goals Increase the Odds of Success

When you are plugging your destination into your GPS, you can’t just say “South” or “Florida” or even “Tampa Bay Florida”, you need to enter a specific address. Making your Destination Goal a SMART Goal will give you the specific address you are looking for. SMART Goals are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time Bond

“I want to lose weight” is a great starting point for a Destination Goal, but it is too vague; it’s the equivalent of entering “I want to go South” in your GPS. Get the specific address of your destination by making this goal a SMART Goal. “I will lose 25 pounds of fat by Memorial Day” is specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time bound.

Reach Your Destination with Pit Stop Goals

If you are driving across country, it’s a long trip. You need to plan your pit stops for gas, food, and sleep ahead of time if you want to reach your destination. Pit Stop Goals will function the same way and help you reach your Destination Goal. If “I will lose 25 pounds of fat by Memorial Day” is your Destination Goal, “I will lose 5 pounds every month” makes a good series of Pit Stop Goals. Pit Stop Goals are smaller, easily achievable goals that keep you accountable and on track for your Destination Goal. The farther away your Destination is, the more Pit Stops you need. Make Pit Stop Goals easy to achieve. This creates a snowball effect as each Pit Stop goal you hit increases your odds of reaching your Destination.

Where Are You Now?

So you know your Destination Goal and the Pit Stop Goals you need to hit to get there. That’s all well and good, but what is the first thing you need to do to make your GPS work? You have to turn on your location so you know where you are starting from. Directions to Tampa Bay will be a lot different if you are starting in Kansas City than if you are in Orlando. Likewise, when you start heading for your Destination Goal, you need to know where you are now first. Find your location by:

  1. Get a Physical
  2. Take an FMS Screen
  3. Measure your weight and waistline
  4. Keep a Food Journal
  5. Know your 1-rep Max in the main lifts

Get a Physical: Cops hate going to the doctor. But getting clearance for a new diet or exercise program is the first starting point in knowing your location. Use your health care and get checked out. If you have heart, blood pressure, or cholesterol concerns, you want to get that in check before you start introducing other variables. Heart disease is a major killer of cops, fight back with a physical.

Take an FMS Screen: A Functional Movement Screen will help you assess if you have any movement patterns that need work. Police Officers sit too much and we wear heavy vests and gun belts. This is a recipe for movement disfunction. The FMS will help correct these issues before you compound the problem by adding weight to movements. Find an FMS Practitioner Near You Here. 

Measure your Weight and Waistline: Measuring your weight and waistline are two of the simplest things you can do to track your body fat. Don’t do it daily, that will lead to obsession. Once per month, step on the scale and record it. Then use a measuring tape around the widest part of your belly and record that number as well. If you really want to increase your odds of success, use this opportunity to take photos of yourself shirtless from the front, back, and side as well. Pictures and your waistline are even more important indicators of body fat levels than your body weight.

Keep a Food Journal: Most people drastically underestimate how much they eat on a daily basis. Use a food tracking app, or simple pen and paper, to record everything you eat on a daily basis. You will be surprised how much mindless snacking you find yourself doing when you have to record everything you eat.

Know your 1-Rep Max in the Main Lifts: Knowing how much you can squat, deadlift, bench press, and overhead press are the best indicators of strength. Just as most people underestimate their food intake, most people overestimate their 1-rep maxes. Be safe, get clearance first with a physical and the FMS screen, and use a spotter.

Location Set, Destination Set…What’s Next?

Once you know your location and destination you are ready to start your journey. But how do you actually get there? Systems are the infrastructure of your Destination Goal that give you turn-by-turn directions. We will delve into the Systems Approach and setting up Systems for your Destination Goal in the next article.

So What’s Your Destination Goal?

Write your Destination Goal in the comments or Email me (george @ and tell me about it. You wouldn’t go on a cross-country journey without telling someone would you? Writing your Destination Goal down will help keep you accountable and on course as well. So tell me about it below!

I’ll start by sharing mine. I’ve written about Pavel Tsatsouline’s Simple & Sinister program before. It’s an almost daily training program around the kettlebell swing and Turkish Get-Up that can be completed in around 30 mins. Between work and a newborn, my available training time significantly decreased in 2016. But I know I can find 30 mins every day to train. Simple & Sinister is a minimal general physical preparedness program that I know will prepare me for all of the physical demands of Law Enforcement work.

My Destination Goal is two part. I want to hit the Sinister Goal of the program. This is long, arduous journey, and I’m not sure it is even attainable in 1 calendar year. My first Destination Goal is owning the Simple Goal. I should be able to achieve this before Memorial Day. I’ll keep you updated with my progress. If you want to know more about Simple & Sinister in the meantime, pick up the book.

Know you know my 2017 Destination Goal, what’s yours?

This article was influenced by James Clear’s Article on Goal Setting.

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MEDICAL DISCLAIMER: I am not a doctor, dietitian, or personal trainer. Consult your doctor before starting any fitness or nutrition plan.