Goal-Setting Strategies

How to go where you want to go—and get there in one piece

| May 1, 2006

By now, the crowds at health clubs and fitness facilities that appeared with New Year resolutions have long since dispersed—an annual phenomenon.

Many people fail to stick to their new workout routine because of the way they developed their resolutions in the first place. Using a system to identify your goals can help. Here’s how to use this system, along with some examples:

1. Your goal should be Specific

Do not say, “I want to lose weight”; instead, decide how much weight you want to lose. Use positive language: “I will lose 5 pounds in the next month.”

2. Your goal should be Measurable

Without a concrete, measurable goal, we cannot know when we’ve reached it. Decide on the specific amount of weight you want to lose, and measure your progress often.

3. Your goal should be Action-oriented

If your goal is to lose a certain amount of weight, establish some actions that will result in your success. For example: “I will substitute water for soft drinks”; “I will not eat after 8 p.m.”; and “I will eat a salad once a day” are action items that can result in weight loss. Spell out specifically what things you will do to accomplish your goal.

4. Your goal should be Realistic

A goal of losing 30 pounds in one month is not achievable. Consult with a health and fitness professional about your goals and make sure they are realistic and reasonable.

5. Your goal should have a Time limit

You should have both short- and long-term goals with daily, weekly, monthly and yearly target dates. Realistic and achievable short-term goals do wonders for your self-esteem when they are met.

The last step toward setting goals is to make sure the goal is really what you want. People often set goals at the urging of a family member or spouse and then are puzzled by their lack of success. After setting your goal, ask yourself the following four questions:

1. Who is this goal for?

2. Why is this goal important for me?

3. Am I excited about achieving this goal?

4. What are the barriers to achieving this goal, and how will I face them?

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Categories: Exercise, Losing weight


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