STEP 1: Finding something challenging to tackle.
A challenge can take the place of a sporting event, an exam, or even eating healthy. Just make sure it's challenging enough to the point that it is attainable but not overly easy. You are the judge of this one so judge wisely.
Example: I want to increase my bench press by 40 pounds in the next 8 weeks.
STEP 2: Outlining a plan of attack.
So you've found a challenge to tackle. Now you have to find a method or plan of attack. This step is crucial because if you plan well enough, you will meet and possibly exceed your goal(s). The method I use is simple. I breakdown my goal into smaller and even easier goals. What this does is it puts the seemingly difficult goal in perspective so that you don't become disheartened and quit altogether.
Example: In order to do this, I will need to devote one to two sessions a week to focus primarily on chest exercises with an emphasis on pressing movements. I will breakdown my workouts so I can train chest once every 5-7 days with alternating heavy and light days. I will always aim for a 5-8% increase on my initial bench on each heavy day. I will treat light days as light days, nothing more and nothing less. I will follow a sound diet and supplement properly. I will train hard and focus while I'm in the gym. I will keep the talking to a minimum, if I talk at all.
STEP 3: Take action!
Actions speak louder than words and in this case, even goals. Just because you have outlined goals does not necessarily mean they will be achieved. You must act in order for this method to work. This should be a no-brainer. You're probably thinking that you already knew this and why go through the entire goal-setting hassle? Well, goals merely are a means to an end. As a forgetting species, we need to be constantly reminded how and why we are working toward something. Call me crazy, but this type of reinforcement works. If you're still skeptical, I suggest that you give it a try. What have you got to lose?
Example: Today is chest day. So I will mentally prepare myself for the upcoming workout. I will focus on what needs to be done. I will review today's goal and target weight before entering the gym and during the workout. I will concentrate. I will not fail!
STEP 4: Enjoy the process.
The challenge that you have set forth for yourself is supposed to be difficult but now that you have broken down and analyzed your goal, it should seem less overwhelming. Now all you have to do is reach the smaller goals and pay very little or no attention to the larger goal. Just enjoy the process and I promise you that before you know it, you will have reached your larger goal without even realizing it. The world is perfect once again, or is it?
Example: Three weeks have passed and I'm seeing slow but steady progress. I'm not progressing as I had planned but I am making strides in the right direction regardless. This is good. If I keep improving then I'm sure to reach my end goal. Just concentrate on improvement and enjoy each successful training session.
As you can clearly see, goal setting and achieving is an effective and extremely simple tool we should all use in life's challenges. Goal setting can be extended beyond the realm of weight training and can be used in business, school, etc. Just make sure you set the right goals and see them through, no matter what. If you have faith in yourself then all things are within your reach.
"What the mind can conceive, the body can achieve."