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How to Set Goals You Will Actually Achieve

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As the New Year approaches, many people are reviewing the past year and setting new goals and intentions for the year to come.

Although, you can set new goals at any time, New Year’s Eve remains one of the most popular times for creating resolutions for the things you would like to manifest in the upcoming year. Of course, New Year’s Resolutions are infamous for going strong for the month of January, and fading as February comes into view. This is particularly true for resolutions related to health and physical fitness.

So let’s buck the trend, and set goals that you can actually achieve!

First, let’s talk about your actual goals. I want you to take a moment and make a list of your goals. They don’t have to be fitness related, this technique will help you get on track with any type of goals. For the purpose of this article, I will focus on examples related to fitness.

Three Steps to Creating Your List of Goals:

  1. Identify Your Goals. Start with your long term/end goal. What do you want to achieve?
  2. Set a deadline for achieving your goal. Then assess if your deadline is realistic.
  3. Break your long term goal into short term goals. Consider those short term goals as check points or re-assessment points along the way.

Now that you have this list, I want you to ask yourself this question:

Are My Goals Measurable?

You might be wondering what that means. Here’s an example.

Goal 1: I want to get better at running.

This goal is not measurable. We need to get more focused and specific. I am going to show you how to make your long term goal more measurable, and how to create a short term goal that will serve as a checkpoint toward achieving your end goal.

Long Term Goal 1: I want to run a 5K in 30-Minutes.

This goal is measurable and specific. Now let’s break this down into short term goals:

Short Term Goal 1: Run 15-Minutes Continuously at 9:39 min/mile Pace with no rest breaks. 

Short Term Goal 2: Run 2 Miles continuously at 9:30 min/mile Pace. 

Short Term Goal 3: Run 3 Miles Continuously. 

Every Long Term Goal should have at least one matching short term goal, but you can break that down into multiple short term goal check points along the way. The benefit of this, is that it gives you a specific step to work towards, and it helps prevent the feeling that you aren’t progressing toward your long term goal. Many people give up on their goals out of frustration, because they are so focused on the end result that they don’t see the progress along the way.

Checking short term goals off of your list helps you to recognize your achievements. It can also help you adjust your plan. Perhaps your goals were too aggressive, and you need to modify or extend your deadline, or maybe you underestimated how quickly you would progress. Either way, checking off short term goals will help you adjust your plan and help you successfully stick to your goals.

Make a Plan:

Now that you have set your goals you need to ask yourself three questions:

  1. How am I going to track my progress?
  2. How often will I re-assess my progress toward my goals?
  3. How often do I need to practice to achieve my goals?

Now I am going to use some examples of short and long term goals, and give them a deadline. This makes it much easier to track progress.

Short Term Goals: 

Long Term Goal: 

Apply this technique to your goals. Be sure to ask yourself: *Do the Short Term Goals Effectively Progress Your Toward Your Long Term Goal?*

Setting deadlines for short term goals sets a timeline for re-assessing and checking in with your goals, while letting you track your progress. It also helps you answer the third questions, “how often do I need to practice to achieve my goals?”

As you check in with those short term goals you will know if what you are doing is working. This allows you to re-assess your plan and make adjustments as needed, instead of getting stuck in a rut, doing something that isn’t progressing you toward your end game. You might need to practice your plan of action a little more or less frequently to make your goals a reality, or you may be right on track. You also might have to change your deadlines along the way.

Final Tips:

Remember to be Flexible with your plan. Your goals can be upgraded, or deadlines can be changed as needed. You might also work toward your goals, and identify an area of interest that is even more important to you. That’s totally fine!

This is your life, you are creating the plan and putting it into action. You also might be sidelined by an illness or injury, or maybe the goals you set were very aggressive and you need a little bit more time to achieve them.

There is nothing wrong with that! As you “check off” your short term goals you should be re-assessing what that means in relation to your long term goal. You might need to move your deadline back a little bit. As long as you are still working toward that long term goal, and checking off short term goals you are on track for success.

Treat yourself with grace. Check in with yourself often, and stay accountable. You have the power to make your goals a reality. You have created your plan. Go put it into action.

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