How to Set Goals that Stick

How to Set GoalsDo you have health goals? Are you trying to lose weight or get back into shape?

Many do set some kind of fitness-related goal (especially around New Year’s), but they often get forgotten about. That got me thinking about how to set goals that stick. If you’re able to make them hang around long enough, you might actually reach them. Imagine that!

You may have heard about setting SMART goals: goals that are Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic and Timely. But I think there’s a step missing before you can actually set a SMART goal. Ask yourself:

– What’s your REAL REASON for setting the goal in the first place?

So, if your goal is to lose weight, or get back into shape — ask yourself “why?”. Finding your “why” will find you your motivation.

Finding the “why” also helps you focus on habits, not on potential outcomes (which may not even be realistic). You see, we’re not programmed to think in the long term; we’re programmed to think about the “right now” and the immediate future. That’s why we panic over losing our wallet or keys, but don’t take much action to conquer global warming or acid rain.


You see, outcomes root all your happiness in some potential future state. A state that may not even be realistic. But you have to be happy in the present too. What good are future results when you’re living in the present?

All I’m saying is that potential future happiness shouldn’t mean misery today.

For example, a man wants to lose 30 pounds so he goes on a restrictive diet. He’s convinced he’ll be happier once he loses the weight, but he hates the diet and the foods he’s forced to eat. Or consider a young woman who wants to get fit and takes up running. She wants to be like her lean friends who take part in a running club. But she find running very hard, and doesn’t like having to get up before 6am every morning to join them.

Those people’s goal will likely fail.

So before you set a goal, even a SMART goal, ask yourself the following:

– Does this goal improve my day-to-day life? Does it make me happier?
If not, is there anything I can do to modify it?

– Am I focused on habits (not just outcomes) that improve my daily existence?

One of the things I do every morning is ask myself what habits I can do that would make my day amazing.

It doesn’t have to be a bit thing; it could be working on my shoulder mobility, spending 30 minutes in nature, or preparing my meals for the next day.

What do your goals look like? How do you make your stick?

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August 14, 2014 No Comments