Motivation Articles

Do's and Don'ts of Goal Setting

Key Pieces to the Puzzle

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Goal achievement, especially when it comes to health and fitness, can be a mystery. Most of us have no trouble with Step 1 (Setting the Goal). Setting a goal is the easy part, it's those other steps that can be a puzzle. But you CAN turn achieving your goals into a science with the right strategies. Here are a few of our favorites:

DO create a plan. DON’T wait for "someday" to roll around.
Setting the goal is just the first step. Know where you’re going, what resources you’ll need, who can help and – most importantly – what Plan B is when life throws a monkey wrench into Plan A.

DO start small. DON’T focus on too many things at once.
Try focusing on one goal at a time. Use a small goal that you know you can do each day for the next two weeks, like getting up without the snooze or drinking eight  cups of water. Build that first habit to boost your confidence and pick up speed.

DO write it down. DON’T forget to give yourself a deadline.
Deadlines turn wishes into goals. The act of writing down your goal is powerful enough to keep you committed and focused. Better yet, find a visual that represents your goal or how your life will be different. Seeing it makes it seem more possible.

DO be specific. DON’T deal in absolutes.
Avoid the words ‘some’ and ‘more’, as in "I will get SOME exercise" or "I will eat MORE veggies." It leaves too much wiggle-out room. Deal in measurable things that you have control over. And never say ‘never’ or ‘always.’ All or nothing is a common attitude that leads people back to bad habits.

DO leave room for failure. DON’T expect perfection.
Persistence is key. Accept the fact that you might not make it on the first try. In a recent study, only 40% of people who successfully followed New Year's resolutions did it on the first try; 17% of resolution achievers took six or more tries before they got it right – but they did get it right.

DO track your progress. DON’T fool yourself into failure.
Memory can be pretty selective. It conveniently forgets that extra brownie while remembering activity that never happened. The only way to know for sure is to track goals regularly with a checklist or journal.

DO reward your success. DON’T beat yourself up over failure.
This is the step that trips up most people. Negative thoughts are usually in our heads, telling us every day what we’re doing wrong. This is not the approach to take to succeed with your goals. Why not focus on what you’re doing right instead? If you take a step back, learn from it and take two steps forward.
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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.

Member Comments

  • I have a goal set to walk my dog Benny a minimum of 4 times for a period of minimum 15 minutes each. - 2/7/2016 8:54:09 PM
  • I'm not good at the rewards thing either - meeting my goals is pretty satisfying. But I need to do a better job and scheduling in the time to meet my goals, and SparkPeople is helping me start to enlist support. I have a couple teams here that really really help. - 1/5/2016 11:28:32 PM
  • Good points, thanks. - 1/5/2016 7:45:35 AM
  • I'm in! - 1/4/2016 11:57:09 PM
  • I think this challenge is just what I need. - 1/4/2016 7:51:03 PM
  • looking forward to a improved me this year! - 1/4/2016 10:30:52 AM
  • I am trying this new challenge to help myself get back on track. - 1/4/2016 10:24:28 AM
  • I am trying this new challenge to help myself get back on track. - 1/4/2016 10:24:27 AM
  • I enjoyed the article -very timely and informative. And I especially appreciate the permission to be kind to myself and not expect perfection. This too often has been my nemesis. If I stumble in my quest I'm in good company - about 100% of humanity. - 1/2/2016 2:56:14 PM
  • My favorite Zig Ziegler quote "when people tell me motivation never lasts, I tell them bathing doesn't either, that's why I recommend it daily". I need to make this my mantra. - 12/28/2015 8:24:36 AM
  • Overall, a good article. But I don't believe in rewarding myself for something I should be doing. That's like rewarding myself for cleaning the house or doing the laundry. - 12/18/2015 8:28:51 AM
  • HPY2BE
    More and more I am embracing the concept of persistence over perfection. This is a kinder and more realistic attitude for me to embrace because I want this behavioral/attitu
    dinal change to effectively carry me through the rest of my life. - 11/7/2015 7:57:11 AM
  • BOBBIE513
    thanks every one who made this site , I weigh 312 the most I ever weighed and need to drop 50 pounds so my back dr will do the surgery AS MY BACK IS GETTING WORSE I sorry for the caps im new to this site hoping the support and tips I get from you all will keep me going thanks so much every one , Bobbie - 4/29/2015 6:50:11 AM
  • 52TOWNOFCALLA
    I am just starting out and goal setting was a little overwhelming. There were so many choices. Thanks for a well-written article. - 4/25/2015 7:00:34 PM
  • Good tips to use.
    I found setting a certain number of pounds to lose per week could discourage me if I didn't reach that goal. So instead I worked on losing 10 lbs ,at a time. Try to lose as soon as possible.
    At first it was within a month. but after the first 100 lbs or so It took a little longer , But because I had the goal of 10 lbs, I was happy with my success.
    Too many people lose hope when weight loss doesn't happen as fast as they expect it .
    It takes longer and more dedication to lose than to gain.
    But it is so worth it to hang in there.
    Tisha
    I - 4/24/2015 10:57:48 AM

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