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How to Set Achievable Goals

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A combination of both short- and long-term goals is important to your success. A long-term goal sets your motivation in place and helps define direction and purpose in your training. But it's also essential to set specific, clear goals along the way.

Steer clear of ambiguous goals like "I want to lose weight for summer" or sweeping goals like changing your lifestyle. Instead, set a specific goal such as "I want to run a 5K in less than 30 minutes," and then develop a series of incremental goals that you can celebrate as you improve.

Example: Want to lose weight? Here's the framework for a four-month plan.

  • Month 1: Do something active 10 to 12 times this month, or 2 to 3 times a week, and eat breakfast every day.
  • Month 2: Eat three meals a day, and try to do another 10 to 12 workouts.
  • Month 3: Train 2 or 3 times a week and eat two snacks a day in addition to your three small meals.
  • Month 4: Do something active on the weekends in addition to your weekly workouts.

Flesh out this plan with smaller weekly goals to make significant change fast without overwhelming yourself. Celebrate your successes each step of the way. This doesn't mean you need to revert back to bad habits and hit the drive-thru. Going out with friends, treating yourself to a massage, or shopping, for instance, can all be rewarding.

Of course there will be times when you slip up, but don't beat yourself up about it—just get right back in the game and start from a place where you feel comfortable. You've been there before and you know what it takes to get right back into the swing of things.

At the end of each day, ask yourself: "Did I move closer to my goal today? Answer honestly. If you're not making progess, try thinking about just one small thing you can do each day that will help you reach your next incremental goal.

Tags: Goals, Planning, Weight Loss, Motivation