“A goal without a plan is just a wish.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Goal setting can be intimidating, but then again so can our goals. That does not make them any less achievable. We all have desires in life, whether in fitness, business, or relationships. Without goals, you can lack focus and direction. Setting personal goals puts you in the driver’s seat, giving you the power to take your life into whatever direction you desire. However, in many circumstances, the initial goals we set out to complete are abandoned somewhere along the way.

To accomplish your goals, you need to know how to set them. This process begins with careful consideration, followed by ample amounts of hard work in order to achieve what we set out to do. In order to make the most of this process, here are five tips for effective goal setting:

1) Establish your end result and do your homework to understand a realistic time frame. If your goal is to run a marathon and you can currently only run 2 miles, spend some time on google to understand how soon you can expect to reach 26.2!

2) Make sure that all of your goals are MEASURABLE. “Get in shape” is not a goal! A Real goal is something that you could test at the end of your progress to see if you achieved it. Examples of real goals are:

  • Run a marathon
  • Squat 225 pounds
  • Lose 10 pounds
  • Get a new job
  • Save 10,000 dollars

3) WRITE IT DOWN.  Commit yourself entirely to your goal. Write it on a sheet of paper and tape it to your bathroom mirror. Set it as your desktop background. Set a reminder on your phone to alert you every morning to chase that goal.

4) Establish periodic goals and celebrate your victories along the way. Sometimes our goals can seem enormous, so how do we achieve them? The same way you’d eat an elephant: one bite at a time. Let’s look at some of the example goals we talked about to understand this breakdown.

Ex 1: Run a Marathon (20 weeks)

  • Weeks 1-4 build up to running 5 miles without stopping
  • Weeks 5-9 build up to running 10 miles
  • Weeks 10-14 build up to running 15 miles
  • Weeks 15-19 build up to 20
  • Week 20 try for the full 26!

Ex 2: Lose 10 pounds (12 weeks)

  • Week 1 establish your nutrition and workout programs
  • Week 2 hit your targets every day
  • Week 3 first weigh in
  • Weeks 4&5 escalate your workout intensity
  • Week 6 second weigh in
  • Weeks 7&8 escalate workout intensity
  • Week 9 third weigh in
  • Week 10 Celebrate your success

5) Reassess your progress at each checkpoint.  This one is critical to reaching success, but perhaps not for the reason you think. Notice that periodic weigh ins are built into the structure of the weight loss goal. We do this for two reasons: first, if you are not making progress as quickly as you should be to reach your goal in the target time frame, these reassessment periods leave you enough time to attenuate your program to still achieve your goal on time. Second, if you are in fact making adequate progress it is important to celebrate yourself for achieving that success! If you lost 3 pounds in 3 weeks, sure it’s not the 10 you want to lose, but you still put in work and got a good result, and that’s no small feat.