1) Set goals that actually matter—to YOU.
Whether you have goals related to fitness, finances, family, career, art or any other area of life, the first thing to do is to determine if you genuinely, truly, authentically care about them. No more working toward goals just because you feel like you “should,” because you feel obligated to, or because of FOMO or any other non-intrinsic reason.
Ask yourself: is this important to me? A few quiet moments of self-reflection should be enough to help you answer that.
2) Write down your goals in positive, present tense “I” form.
Psychologically, goals written in the future tense (e.g., “I will…”) tend to stay in the future. Likewise, negative intentions (e.g., “I don’t smoke”) often seem to have less staying power than positive intentions (e.g., “I am 100% tobacco-free”). Help make your goals a reality by writing them down starting with I action…with a deadline. Example: “I run one mile in under 9 minutes by March 1st, 2018 or sooner.”
3) Make sure your goals have measurable parameters.
You need a way to tell if you’ve actually achieved your stated goal. In other words, a goal to “eat better” isn’t as helpful as “eat at least 5 servings of veggies per day.”
The trick? Look at what you want to achieve, then figure out how you can clearly and definitely show your progress to someone else (e.g., miles, pounds, dollars, servings of veggies, etc.).
4) Track your goals over time.
This step is essentially putting step 3 into practice. Once you’ve identified an objective way to measure your progress, be sure to schedule routine check-ins or re-tests of these parameters as you go along. This way, you can figure out what is or isn’t working and adjust accordingly.
5) Create new goals along the way.
Perhaps it’s not the best analogy for a health-related topic, but “chain-smoking” your goals can actually be pretty beneficial.
Here’s what we mean: creating and starting off on a new goal by building off of an old one. For instance, let’s say you’ve achieved your goal of working out 3 days a week consistently for 1 month. A great next step would be to set a new goal of working out 4 days per week consistently for one month or some other sort of “upgrade” that makes sense to you.
Not only does this help you stay inspired and forward-moving, but it can also help you avoid the trap of setting the bar too low for yourself by setting “too-easy” goals.
As Michelangelo reportedly said: “The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short, but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.”