Strategize your Daily Goal

Brook AdamsBrook Adams Member, Practitioner admin

We all know what an AFS Daily Goal is.  You and your practitioner have your New Client meeting and you set up a daily reminder through the AFS Connect app.  This reminder should help implement habit change over time as it provides accountability to your practitioner. The typical Daily Goal looks like “Did you stay under your *x calorie* goal today? If not, why?”  That question is a perfect goal! But let’s explore the creative side of a daily goal a bit pertaining to some wider range goals and how you can make them more effective to establish the desired behavior change.

Time goals

This is for the people with “Did you avoid snacking after 8pm?” type goals.  How many times have you missed that goal simply because you didn’t realize it was past 8? One solution: The default Daily Goal reminder time can be changed! Move your time up to exactly 8, or even 7:45. This time when the ding chimes, it is actually a reminder, not just a question your practitioner wants to know.  And on top of that, when you answer, it’s not just answering your practitioner, it is making a promise/contract to yourself, to not eat after 8. The mindset there is much more based on the daily goal helping you directly, than the daily goal question just asking if you did it. 

Physical Activity

We all lead such busy lives. But that busy life doesn’t always keep you active.  You and your practitioner may have a “What did you do for physical activity today” or “How many steps did you get in today” type of goal. Unfortunately I find a lot of people at 10pm at night thinking, “Hmm what did I do for activity today? I got the kids to school, I went to work, brought mom to the doctor, made dinner, and then the new ‘This Is Us’ episode was on.  I suppose there just wasn’t time.” And then they answer the goal “I didn’t have time. Busy day.” That day can be exceptionally valid as too busy. But I also challenge the helpfulness of the goal placement. We, as humans, are over 4 times more likely to do something when we plan to do it and write it down. Now, here is the same day, but the Daily Goal asks you in the morning at 7am “Did you follow your activity goal yesterday? What will your planned Physical Activity be today?” Now you have the proactive chance to think ahead at your crazy day and brainstorm.  Perhaps you can walk the stairs at the medical clinic as your mom is in with the doctor, or do stretches at work between projects, or make walking tacos for dinner (okay the walking tacos was actually a pun, but you get the point). For some people, a strategic goal, is a morning plan. 

Personal Preference

This last one is a little different. And based off of a very recent client interaction that really got me thinking about all of this.  She has a goal based off of limiting sweets to at least 2 servings if not one per day (with the term ‘sweets’ defined prior). She brought to my attention a very real issue. After a long day of stressful work, while she was settling down into her introvert/recovery time, the daily goal would chime.  And she would find herself resenting the goal, resenting needing to check in with someone about it, and just being overall annoyed with it. This would happen whether or not she followed her goal! Yep, she would be right on track only having sugar in coffee that morning, but would still find herself agitated. The two of us had an open and honest conversation about this and during it we stumbled upon the answer.  She needed the reminder the come in the morning, when she is energetic looking forward to the day. A question pertaining to the day prior (Did you follow your sweets goal yesterday?) isn’t necessarily an easy or possibly very accurate one. But it in this instance, the goal needed to be seen as a positive reinforcement of support in the morning, not as a nagging trainer at night.  In this way, she can start off her day with support, as opposed to ending it with perceived judgement.

Not all of these methods will work for everyone. And that's not the point anyway. I’m simply hoping this post gets you brainstorming on how your daily goal can truly be used as a tool to influence a daily goal to become a daily habit. 

Does anyone have any input on what they can do to make their personal daily goal more strategic?


  • Aimee TinkhamAimee Tinkham Member Rank ✭6✭

    I have always felt the same way as your client did about the daily goal. I find it hard to be mindful of it after working a long day and have resented it. I may give a morning reminder a try! Thank you

  • Sawyer Paull-BairdSawyer Paull-Baird Administrator, Moderator, Practitioner, AFS Staff admin

    Very much looking forward to this discussion @Brook Adams . Curious to hear from clients and staff members alike on what's gone well, not gone well etc. with their daily goals (if they use this feature as it's just one tool in the toolbox).

    Great points already made, and thanks for starting this topic!

    Sawyer Paull-Baird BS CSCS ACSM-EP PN-Lvl1
    Agent of Change / Fitness Innovation & Education Coordinator
  • Emma SheffertEmma Sheffert Member, Practitioner, AFS Staff admin

    Awesome post @Brook Adams! The timing of the goal is everything and always something that I remind clients of. I have a few clients who have goals like "What are you having for dinner tonight?" that goes off in the morning to remind them to get the food ready (and not get home tired and just order takeout!). Its a touch balancing act when you have someone who wants to achieve multiple things, but not write a full paragraph for every daily goal entry. Most of the time, I encourage people to pick one main goal where the reminder would be the most beneficial. That way they don't get bogged down tying to accomplish too much!

    I love your idea of “Did you follow your activity goal yesterday? What will your planned Physical Activity be today?”. I think that phrasing sets the tone for the rest of the day and gets them thinking ahead of time so they can plan their day around it.

    I am curious to hear how others use their daily goals in ways that we haven't discussed!

  • Gayle GradyGayle Grady Member Rank ✭4✭

    Goals always a challenge for me...I find them daunting.

  • Brook AdamsBrook Adams Member, Practitioner admin

    @Gayle Grady Why is that Gayle? Could you explain a little more? Perhaps you've tried something in the past to make a goal less daunting?

  • Kim GoodfellowKim Goodfellow Member, Foundations Course Member Rank ✭5✭

    Great topic @Brook Adams ! I was just thinking about this the other day. I feel like the task of answering the daily goals has just become a mindless task that I try and remember to do before the alert. I use to "blog" about the day, use emoji's, ect.. Now It is just simple yes or no's.. I was wondering if I should ask about changing the goals just to avoid the mundane and make it something to look forward to doing again.. BUT I love the idea of having it alert in the morning more as a motivation technique to start the day off positive! Set the tone for the day!

  • Gayle GradyGayle Grady Member Rank ✭4✭

    @Brook Adams Oh where to start, pull up a chair and a cup of joe. Goals are daunting to me because I feel like I will fail if I don't complete them. I have been thinking about this a lot for the last few days and I know that a lot of my hit and miss at the gym is because of my lack of being unorganized at home and having chaos and small fires to put out. Last weekend I made a list of things I want to tend to and I have been doing great, I have completed something everyday. By biggest and most challenging goal is to take more time for me, as I am always on the back burner simmering away while I tend to everyone else.

  • Sawyer Paull-BairdSawyer Paull-Baird Administrator, Moderator, Practitioner, AFS Staff admin

    @Gayle Grady I'm glad you said that because that's such a common statement and struggle for so many people. I would venture to guess that for every person that is comfortable being vulnerable enough to say it like you did, another 2-3 feel the exactly same way but won't openly express it.

    What I would recommend if your find yourself feeling this way about your goals is to start small.

    Choose a goal that you are so confident you will hit, that it's almost laughable. Start there, and then once you nail it, which you will, choose something just a TAD more challenging. Rinse and repeat, and this strategy can rebuild the confidence around setting goals, and build some positive momentum.

    Goals don't have to always be these big massive, juicy things. The accumulation of small actions over time can be equally impactful.

    Sawyer Paull-Baird BS CSCS ACSM-EP PN-Lvl1
    Agent of Change / Fitness Innovation & Education Coordinator
  • Beth ManoogianBeth Manoogian Member Rank ✭7✭

    I changed my daily goal a bunch over the years with my prior FP to suit various issues I was dealing with. Here are some examples in case they might help someone else:

    -Were you at or above 115g of protein today? If not, why not?

    -Were you able to add in your extra 1-2 servings of vegetables in place of other non-essential carbs? If not, why not?

    -Did you have a serving of yogurt today for extra protein? (I really hate yogurt, but it's such a good source of protein and hard for me to hit protein goals without it)

    -What was the highest point of your day today, and why? (When I was going through a particularly stressful time and needed to focus on the positives)

    Then there was a period of time when one goal was not enough:

    -1. Did you do your shoulder stretches? 2. Are you in bed by 11pm? 3. Did you log all of your food today?

    And my personal favorite:

    -1. Did you do your shoulder stretches? 2. Are you in bed by 11pm? 3. DID YOU BUY ANY WORKOUT CLOTHES TODAY?! (I have issues.🤦🏻‍♀️)

  • Mike StackMike Stack Member, Administrator, Moderator, Practitioner, AFS Staff admin

    Just to chime in to add an additional thought to the daily goal discussion. One thing I've heard clients use it for is a good reminder at certain points during the day when they know they'll be particularly challenged by something. As an example, I've heard some clients use it in the evening when they'd be prone to snacking on unhealthy food items. The reminder would work something like "remember to snack on veggies tonight" or even "tell your practitioner how you did on snacking tonight" or something like that.

    I'll also extend this concept one step further to talk about the utility of using reminders or alarms on your phone to do things throughout the day. I actually use reminders several times throughout the day to do a breathing practice as well as reminders to get up an move. @Brook Adams makes a great point of how to leverage the daily goal more effectively. On top of that using your alarm on your phone to prompt certain behaviors (or remind yourself not to do certain behaviors can be very effective). Great discussion above and great points made by everyone.

    Michael E. Stack, BS CFP CSCS*D CPS
    AGENT OF CHANGE, CEO, & Exercise Physiologist

  • Terry LobbTerry Lobb Member, Inward Journey Meditation Group Member Rank ✭5✭

    @Mike Stack alarms really do help. I found an ap to set an alarm to drink water every half hour. It really helps me to reach my daily water 💦 goal!!!

  • Mike StackMike Stack Member, Administrator, Moderator, Practitioner, AFS Staff admin

    Love it @Terry Lobb! They do help a lot.

    Michael E. Stack, BS CFP CSCS*D CPS
    AGENT OF CHANGE, CEO, & Exercise Physiologist

  • Gayle GradyGayle Grady Member Rank ✭4✭

    I love that quote @Sawyer Paull-Baird! I am going to put that on my bathroom mirror! At almost 57 years old in January I have learned to own and be vaulnerable to many of my "faults." Completeting tasks small, medium or large can be quite empowering, as everything really is the mindset. My brain feels clearer, my shoulders feel lighter and my mood is content. Last Friday, I put up one of our Christmas trees, which is a big deal to me, as I am a naysayer for doing anything Christmas related before Thanksgiving; but I knew I needed to get it done as we only have 4 weeks between the holidays. Truth be told the last 6 months have been very challenging and overwhelming around here and I don't want to have too much on my plate all at once.

  • Sawyer Paull-BairdSawyer Paull-Baird Administrator, Moderator, Practitioner, AFS Staff admin
    edited November 2019

    @Gayle Grady I am ecstatic to hear you enjoyed the quote, and message behind it. All we can ever do it our best, and that changes from moment to moment and day to day. So long as you can truly and honestly say you're doing your best, there is nothing we can/should regret, judge, or abuse ourselves for. If you're feeling overwhelmed and challenged already, your goals will have to be adjusted not to feed that further.. and that's OKAY. We have the tendency to weigh our goals against others' goals, or our perceived expectations of what we believe other people think our goals should be. In reality, all that matters with a goal is that is relevant to you personally, and fits your current ability. A goal should not be terribly stressful or anxiety producing (although certainly some small degree of stress is normal since you are likely changing a habit that you're accustomed to doing). If it is, it's probably not the right goal for you at that moment in time. This makes me think about the concepts of good vs bad stress (or eu vs dis-stress). Here's a great (albeit a bit lengthy) article on the topic. The graph and excerpt below captures the spirit well too. If you think about this within the context of stress associated with a goal, it sort of illustrates what we're talking about. Many of us set goals on the far right side of the curve, trying to do too much as once, and end up "crashing and burning" like the graphic says.

    Sawyer Paull-Baird BS CSCS ACSM-EP PN-Lvl1
    Agent of Change / Fitness Innovation & Education Coordinator
  • Gayle GradyGayle Grady Member Rank ✭4✭

    Thank you @Sawyer Paull-Baird, great article with plenty of helpful information! This will be printed and something I will also share with my family. Thank you for taking the time to help me make sense of my challenge.

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