Everyone in the fitness world pushes for goal-making. There’s value in having goals because it gives you ways to actively get to where you want to be, while measuring progress along the way. When you have achievable, measurable goals, you’re closer to the lifestyle and mental state you want for yourself.

Without goals, there’s no way to really get there.

But how do you create goals that are smart? Positive? Obtainable, and yet not too easy? Here are five tips for making goals that will inspire you, yet keep you positive throughout the process:

1. Start with one small thing.

I think the worst (and hardest) part about making goals is that we get too excited and start creating far too many at once.

Although making goals is good, you don’t want to try to stretch yourself too thin that you burn out. When you’re thinking about the lifestyle you want, consider one small change at a time. If you can change one, tiny thing (for example waking up an hour earlier, or committing to a single day of exercise per week to start) then adding will be far less of a challenge because you’ve already started!

2. Think in terms of weeks and months.

Although it’s great to think about long-term goals (like where you’d like to be in a year or two from now), piggy-backing off of #1, you also want to think about smaller time increments, too.

When you create a goal that’s small in time, it forces you to slow down and hold yourself accountable. For example, if you push yourself to commit to a certain amount of exercise time per week, you’ll see that by the end of the month you’ve completed far more than you realized. But because you’re only looking on a week or month scale (a much smaller increment) it seems more achievable!

3. Find an accountability partner.

Finding and surrounding yourself with good community can make or break your goals. If you have a team of people around you in support, you’ll be more likely to get things done.

Having a partner to workout with you, show up to class with you, eat healthy with you, etc. will help you stay on top of yourself, too, because you won’t want to let him or her down.

4. Remember (and honor) your physical and mental limits.

A huge (and often overlooked) component of setting achievable, measurable goals is understanding your mental and physical limits, and keeping those at the forefront of your mind.

Some people are going to be physically stronger than others. Some are going to have more mental discipline. Some people will be better in the morning, while others are more alert and focused at night. It all depends on who you are as a person and what works for you.

If you’re trying to achieve goals that don’t match who you are—you’re going to give up before any real progress is made.

5. Modify—don’t quit after failure.

Something you have to keep in mind when you’re making goals is that you’re not always going to be perfect. No one is. Rather than quitting after your first mistake or failure, empower yourself to keep going and instead modify your goals.

Perhaps you thought you would have a better time for your mile run, or be able to lift a higher amount of weight. Rather than being discouraged over what you didn’t get (YET!) change your goals so that you’re still motivated, but not frustrated before you even begin.

Marisa Donnelly

Marisa is a full-time freelance writer, editor, and fitness enthusiast located in Ocean Beach, San Diego. She is the author of the poetry collection, Somewhere On A Highway and founder of Be A Light LLC, a remote writing coaching/tutoring/editing services company.


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