Motivation Strategies

Use Smart Goal-Setting Techniques

All Weight Loss Goals are Not Created Equal

What is the most important factor of success and achievement? IQ, self-confidence, perseverance?

Actually, that's a trick question. According to intelligence studies, the answer would be none of the above. In fact, the tendency to set goals is the #1 predictor of success.

Your SparkPeople program is based on a goal. You've already taken a key step by setting that goal. Still, you can increase your chance of reaching it (and your future goals) by using some smart goal-setting techniques.

Start with a Long-Term Goal.  Picture the effect it will have, how your life will be different, what you would be able to do differently. Think of the strategy you'll use and who can help you. This is your blueprint. Before you do anything else, write that goal down. Memory studies indicate that the brain forgets 80% of detail within 24 hours and 99% within two weeks. Writing it down keeps the goal fresh and clear in your mind.

Next, create a timeline. This begins with a target date, which you've probably already set. Now you have Point A and Point B; what are the steps along the way that'll take you from one to the other? Think of a series of Medium-Term Milestones you can use to keep momentum high and the path straight. Maybe set weekly or monthly goals to move closer to the ultimate prize.  Milestones can also be achievements that have nothing to do with the scale. Maybe sign up for a walkathon that you wouldn't have been able to do last year.

Finally, plan out the Short-Term Actions that will get you to your first Milestones. These are your daily and weekly nutrition and fitness goals. This is how doing just a little bit every day can help you reach even your biggest goal. By doing these Actions, you stay on track and a permanent, healthier lifestyle is just a matter of time.

Overall, your health goals should be:
  • Realistic: Start off with a goal that isn't too ambitious, so you can sooner experience the thrills of success. Build toward grander goals to keep your motivation high.
  • Specific: Make sure it can be measured and tracked.
  • Forgiving: Leave room for the "1 Step Back, 2 Steps Forward" principle to apply.
  • Crystal Clear: Find a photo depicting or symbolizing what you want. The clearer the point of the whole thing is, the easier it is to stay focused.
  • Valuable: Remind yourself why you want to succeed in the first place.
  • Challenging: What do you wish for? This is the goal that will hold your attention the most. There's no reason our wishes can't become our goals.
  • Rewarded: Every little bit of positive reinforcement helps.
  • Backed Up: Prepare for the unknown with contingency plans before problems come up. Have options waiting that will help you stay consistent in the face of the unexpected.

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Member Comments

    Good information.
  • A Great Article---Thanks!
  • The great thing about this program, I don't have to diet. Just portion the food . May sure you have the five fruit and veggies. I have been on this plan for one week and I have lost four pounds already. I can't diet, hate dieting and won't diet. This is the way to go. Have fun, feel great, and look good.
    I am just starting scare to fail again
  • I'm a firm believer in setting goals and this article puts it into perspective and gives clarity.
  • Love the article.
  • I like the article.
  • really sound advice on goal setting in any context. Thanks!
  • I really enjoyed the three articles from this Best of SparkPeople Daily. Very straightforward and motivational. Thanks for reminding us to set goals and to concentrate on each step toward that goal so as not to get overwhelmed. These are keepers. Thank you!
  • Straight forward and to the point. Simplifies setting the goal making it a no brainer to get started.
    great article. I will do this this week.
  • What a great article!! I just did quite a bit of what was said last night! So as I'm beginning this new process, I'll take what I've learned here and fine tune it. Woohoo! So excited!
  • I read this article in November 2010, and I followed the tips to the T. Six months later, I have met each of the goals I have set, and I feel confident that I am going to meet the rest of my goals. I realized, after reading this article, that the Key thing missing from my previous weightloss attempts was a solid layout of goals.
    Lately, I have been feeling overwhelmed and discouraged with my progress and efforts. I'm glad to have found this article by chance again today. Seeing that this helped me form my "blueprints", and stick to them, is encouraging to me. It's also inspired me to reevaluate my plans today and refresh my approach by adding some new goals which I couldn't have foreseen a few months back (i.e. I'm now feeling energetic and fit enough to take up a Zumba class, which was NOT on my original blueprints!) Thanks again, Mike, for a really important and relevant article!
  • GrEaT article...comes at the perfect time too, time to redefine those goals i set months ago.

About The Author

Mike Kramer Mike Kramer
As a writer and artist, Mike has witnessed countless motivational stories and techniques. See all of Mike's articles.

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