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January 16, 2021

[Part Two] Your 2021 goals & how to maximize them!

Hey FitFam! In the last post we talked about how to make your outcome goals, into behavior goals. Behavior goals allow us to focus on the things we can control.

As a recap - here are a few examples:

Outcome Behavior

Lose 10 pounds. Eat till satisfied (instead of stuffed) at each meal.

Lower blood sugar. Eat fruit for dessert, instead of sweets, at least three times a week.

Squat more weight. Squat 3 times a week at various intensities.

Sleep 8 hours per night. Create a calming pre-sleep routine and start it 30 minutes before bedtime.

Have a better relationship with your partner. Have a date night once a week.

This week we are going to talk about “avoid goals” and turning those into “approach goals”

Stop drinking pop.

Stop eating fast food.

Stop smoking.

Stop drinking alcohol.. you get the picture.

“Avoid” goals like these are nice and straightforward, right? What’s simpler or easier to understand than “don’t do that”?

“Don’t” or “stop” will push you away from something “bad”, or something that threatens what you want to achieve.

Yet “avoid” goals are psychologically counterproductive. Because telling yourself to stop doing something almost guarantees you’ll keep doing it. Does that sound like it rings true to you?

Think about it - really nobody likes being told what to do. This is called resistance, and it’s completely human and completely normal. The moment someone (even yourself) argues strongly for change, your natural reaction is to argue equally strongly against change.

What’s more, if the goal is to stop doing something, even the smallest slip can feel like a failure. One miss means you’re “off the wagon” and all hell breaks loose. We don’t like this feeling and it could hinder us from even starting to achieve our goals!

“Avoid” goals are a lot of psychological work. They take up a lot of mental and emotional real estate and energy. All you can think about is what you’re not doing… or shouldn’t do… but really want to do… but you’re not —allowed— to do it… ughhhh…

That’s why we want to turn “avoid” goals into “approach” goals!!! Let’s dive deeper into that:

“Approach” goals pull you toward something good or beneficial and quietly pull you away from something you’re trying to avoid. “Approach” goals also focus on feeling good. About doing good for ourselves.

Here are some examples of how we can turn “avoid” goals into “approach” goals. Note how approach goals are about adding and enjoying “good stuff” rather than taking away or avoiding “bad stuff”.


So how can we put this into action, right now? How can you set up powerful goals that are approachable? That won’t make you feel terrible when you "fall off the wagon?”

  1. Write down a “bad” habit you want to avoid. This is pretty easy. It’s the “hard to break” behavior you nag yourself about a lot.
  2. Write down a “good” habit or two you can use to replace the habit you want to quit. Try to make the “good” habits relevant to the context. If you usually take a smoke break at work, take a tea break instead, for example.
  3. Write down an “approach” goal you can do today to support the new “good” habit. Start as small as you want. Maybe you take the tea break today — or maybe you just bring your new tea stash to work today so it’s ready for you tomorrow.
  4. Identify how this “approach” goal will benefit you. Brainstorm all the good things that your tea break could bring: you get antioxidants, you can try all different kinds of tea, you can use the adorable mug your daughter made you in pottery class, you can hang out in the break room with that attractive coworker who also likes tea, you’ll smell like fragrant jasmine or vanilla rooibos instead of cigarette smoke… whatever.
  5. Find what works, and repeat. You can try a bunch of different “approach” goals to find out what feels easiest for you. When you find one that works for your life, practice it every day.

What habits are you going to start working on right now?

Hope this helps! Check out Like Water Crossfit to set your fitness and nutrition goals in motion today!


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