Episode 85 - Radical Goal-Setting

You have the potential for permanent lifestyle change, no matter where you start from! Harness the power of your mind to thrive, in spite of a culture of fitness-shaming. Set clear process goals and learn how to “fail forward”, through evaluation and revision. Seek community connection to provide motivational support that informs your goal processes.

_Today on the Fitlandia podcast #85, guests Mike McCastle and David Skolnik of Evolution Healthcare and Fitness (Portland, OR) join host Christa King of Fitlandia Fitness to help those struggling with reaching their goals by providing clarity about the process of successful goal-setting and goal achievement._

Why Set Goals?

Anyone can set mere goals. The importance lies in clarity. Setting CLEAR goals and considering WHY we are setting the goal will:

  • limit our mind’s wandering space
  • draw us into the moment, creating immediacy and focus which allows us to create a rich environment in service to our goals
  • provide structure for immediate feedback that will tell whether we are on track


Fitlandia’s 30 Days to Thrive Program members are encouraged to use SMART goal strategy, to bring clarity and focus to their journey.

The SMART(ER) acronym reminds that we should set goals for ourselves which are Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented/Achievable, Realistic, Time-bound PLUS:  we must regularly Evaluate, and Revise our goals.

Many of us have really demanding, high expectations; we launch into things without understanding what’s really “under the hood”. Members often want to lose weight FAST. No, no, no…slow down!  First things first. Focus on the Four Cornerstones of Fitness: Change behaviors around food, get moving, think positively, connect with your community. Jumping into a goal can be disillusioning, especially for perfectionists!

That is why the EVALUATE and REVISE aspects of the SMART(ER) strategy is so important. We need to be gentle with ourselves, observing our journey as it unfolds. Today’s guests add to that: Be gentle; yet analytical. Recording and tracking progressions daily, weekly gives us a tool to review and adjust our goal and/or the actions that are getting us to that goal.

Process Goals Lead to Successful Outcomes

Mike and David also point out that a goal with no steps is very unlikely to be met.  There is a difference between outcome goals and process goals. An “outcome goal” is something like “lose 20 pounds”. A “process goal” is what you need to do to move along toward a clear outcome goal. For example, in order to reach an outcome goal of losing 20 pounds, you may incorporate process goals of  2 days strength training, 3 days cardio workout ; tailored diet meal plan.

If we create process goals, but only focus mindset on outcome goal, we lose sight of the process and ultimately, the goal is unmet.  The outcome goal doesn’t ground us in the present. Instead, it’s always looking into the future. Remember, an initial requirement for a clear goal is that it draws us into the MOMENT. So in order to have success, we must be mindful our our process goals, constantly evaluating and revising.

What is a Secret Goal?

David and Mike describe a secret goal like this: an athlete may say, “My goal is to compete in an Iron Man and I just want to finish with the pack”. But secretly, that person may be desiring a Top –20 finish and would be upset if they didn’t achieve at that level–then those feelings will get in the way of any positive feelings about the stated goal… and that disappointment will affect the next training cycle. Many are afraid to articulate their secret goal–afraid of the pressure that will come or the level of commitment it will take to get there

Christa King suggests that’s where Mind Zoning® comes in! The Mind Zoning® Academy helps us learn to set boundaries and give ourselves permission to make ourselves and our health related goals a priority. This strengthens our ability to commit to the process goals that move us forward toward meeting our treasured secret outcome goals!

Why is Community Important to Success?

One of the secrets to making fitness easier is to work out or train with a group! Especially one with the same goal.  Your tribe will:

  • Generate competition/motivation
  • Impact brain chemistry
  • Provide mental checks that provoke us to keep up, push harder, stay accountable
  • Provide comfort in knowing others are suffering on their journey to the goal, too
  • Give positive feedback from others, especially when we are our own worst critic
  • Share personal experiences that empathize, motivate, validate.

Lack of engagement in the community is the biggest indicator that a person may not meet with success. Christa King reminds us that Community Connection is often the sustaining factor for process goals. That is why community is at the heart of her 30 Days to Thrive program.

Say No to Shame…and Yes to Tribe

Guests from Evolution Fitness warn us about “fitness shaming”: the accusatory tones friends use when probing about your habits, ie: “_Why_ do you go to the gym six days a week?” or the funny looks you get when you order your burger with a lettuce wrap. People become uncomfortable when seeing someone take action toward a goal. There’s a cognitive “spotlight” effect that seems for them to highlight areas of performance in their own life that they know need work. It makes people feel vulnerable and defensive.

However, the act of suffering together IN A GROUP for the sake of a goal seems to shut down that pre-frontal cortex, so the defensiveness gives way to unity with the group and for the good of the group. Functioning in a community literally helps us get out of our own way.

Christa expounds on this idea: We are wired to show up for our tribe. Use that as a motivator. Also, remember not to take personally others’ reactions to your goal-reaching processes and lifestyle changes. The subconscious really just wants to protect us from change. Knowledge helps us to override that. For example: Unless someone was a real jerk, he/she would never encourage an alcoholic friend to “have just one drink”.  And yet, if someone is trying to take a break from sugar, friends tempt relentlessly. It is this pervasive lack of knowledge about sugar addiction along with subconscious fear of change, rather than maliciousness, that causes people to react negatively to our attempts to set and reach our health and fitness goals. 

What About FAILURE?

Evolution Fitness points out that any high achiever has failed many, many times. We should ascribe to the school of “Fail often; fail forward”. The more you fail, the more feedback you get. Immediate feedback is healthy; each failure is part of the process: a sort of report card of “where I was and where I am now”. When you fail, don’t make immediate concession of your goal! Take that as positive feedback–quantifiable data– with which to evaluate and revise your process goals. How you perceive failure is more important that the failure itself. The only real failure is quitting.

Christa King adds that  there is no need for shame; no room for shame! Look on “failure” as if you were an observer in the room. What was going on that led up to it? Gather information you need to be successful in the long run.

Consider Your Locus of Control

Those who complain and blame rely on external locus of control. Learn to shift from an external locus of control to an internal one. Taking responsibility and coming up with solutions shifts to internal and allows us more sense of power over our choices. This allows us an ability to view failure more productively, leading to better choices in the future. Turning to external factors is “failing backward”, not forward. Eliminate excuses, become the warrior, get the results you want! Our guest expounds: One of the Four Buddhist Noble Truths is that life begins with struggle…to exist is to struggle. What matters for success is what people do in that struggle to endure: Do you fight/flight/give up?…or do you find a moment to transcend and elevate?

Mike McCastle:

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Twelve Labors Project, Frog Fuel Athlete, 4x World Record Holder, Performance/Mental Strength Coach, Evolution Healthcare and Fitness Trainer

David Skolnik:

on Instagram


Strength Coach, Physical Therapist, Power Athlete, Rock Steady Boxing Coach, Evolution Healthcare and Fitness Trainer

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