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7 Tips to Set and Reach Your Goals

Man triumphantly at the top of a mountain

iStock/blyjak

In this Article:

  • Set goals that are meaningful to you.
  • Choose a goal and map out how you will reach it.
  • Making short-term goals and recording your progress will help you accomplish them.

Ever set goals to lose weight, work out more, or eat better, but get discouraged when you don’t see results? The reason we sometimes don’t achieve our goals is because they are too broad and lack focus, or are too narrow and require other actions to be successful.

These seven tips will help you set and achieve your fitness goals:

1. CHOOSE MEANINGFUL GOALS

You are a unique individual and your goals should reflect your personal interests and priorities. It’s important that your goals mean something to you and add value to your life. By picking meaningful goals, you will be more motivated and committed to achieving them.

2. MAP OUT A PLAN

Use the SMART method to set short- and long-term goals for the next six weeks, three months, six months, and year:

  • Specific—Point out exactly WHAT it is you want to achieve—the more detail, the better the results. Example: Adding 10 points to your previous APFT score.
  • Measurable—Spend time developing criteria and tools that you will use to measure your progress. Example: The number of push-ups or sit-ups you add to your APFT score.
  • Attainable—Identify goals that you have the skills and abilities to achieve. Example: Make sure you have time to dedicate to PT, a proper training schedule, etc.
  • Realistic—Given your time, money, resources, and level of skill, make sure your goal is possible. Be realistic, but always aim high. Example: Go to bed 15 minutes earlier each night until you reach seven to eight hours of sleep.
  • Timely—Give yourself a deadline! Example: Sign-up, train, and complete a 10K race within the next three months.

3. START SMALL

Set short-term goals that lead to the ultimate goal. Achieving short-term goals will lead to “quick wins” and keep your morale high. For example, if you want to do push-ups, but are overweight, you may need to prioritize losing weight and strengthening your upper body first. Create daily to-do lists of steps that will build on one another to accomplish each goal.

4. PLAY TO YOUR STRENGTHS

Strengths are things you’re good at and weaknesses are things you have a hard time doing. Limitations are what you are not capable of doing because of health reasons, lack of resources, or other restrictions. Use your strengths to achieve your goals. For example, if exercising more is a goal and you know you have more energy first thing in the morning, sign up for a morning fitness class.

5. STAY POSITIVE

You may face potential setbacks to your plan. Remember why you started on this path to begin with (see tip No. 1). Post visual reminders of the long-term goal, such as a photo of what you hope to achieve, to stay motivated. Share your goals with friends and family so they can cheer you on.

6. KEEP GOING

If you get off track, don’t sweat it! Take a deep breath and keep going. Every step counts, no matter how small. Hang in there, because before you know it, you will be one step closer to reaching your goal.

7. TRACK YOUR PROGRESS

By recording your progress, you can see how far you’ve come. It will also help you see any adjustments you might need to make. You can do this in a journal, a mobile app, or on a fitness-tracking device. Share accomplishments with a battle buddy and celebrate your “wins” along the way.

Did you know that every time you achieve a goal—big or small—your body releases a brain chemical for pleasure? Jumpstart your goal list today and get started!

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