How much time should I allow myself to reach my goals?

People generally set short and long term goals. Long term goals are the end goals you hope to achieve: looking better, feeling better, feeling stronger, losing weight, etc. Short term goals help you achieve the long term goals and are the most important goals to focus on. Short term goals are the confidence building goals. They are the building blocks for getting you to where you want to go. For example, if you have a long term goal of wanting to lose 20 pounds in 6 months, a short term goal might be 2 pounds a month or a half pound a week with other corresponding goals to help you get there: walk twice a week for 15 minutes and garden twice a week. Reaching short term goals usually depends on when you want to reach the end/long term goal. Goals should be re-evaluated and revisited once a week. They can be changed and re-arranged as often as you'd like. The time allotted to reaching a goal depends on what the goal is and how much time you need to invest versus the amount of time you are currently putting in.
Think about what your ultimate goal. How long do you want to take to get there? For example, if you struggle to be active with your kids and your goal is to be more functional how long do you want to take to get there? Tomorrow, two weeks or three months is probably not a realistic goal but in 6 months you could feel better and more functional. In 12 months even more so and in 2! 

Once you know what your ultimate goal and when you want to reach it you will want to set some short-term goals to get there. The number of exercise goals you should set is very personal. There are no set limits, however, it is important to start with a few realistic (realistic means doing enough exercise but not too much exercise) goals out of the gates.  Initially it's good to start off with 2-3 goals and add as you go along and feel more comfortable and confident.  Experience has shown starting off with a realistic number of attainable (you can see yourself reaching it) goals will help gain the momentum and confidence for adherence to exercise. Jumping in and doing too much leads to dropping out. 

The next step is tracking. How do you keep track of the short-term goals that lead to your ultimate goal? There are many ways to keep track of your goals and how you keep track is really dependent on what works for you. For short and long-term goals a journal is helpful so that you can see progress and changes particularly over time allowing you to realize how close or how far away you are from your ultimate goal. Writing short-term goals on a calendar is helpful. A calendar is based in time and it will give you a good time perspective of how you are progressing from day to day. Daily goals can also be written on sticky notes and put up in areas where they can frequently be seen as a reminder. 

The best way to set goals is using SMART goals. Goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time based. 

Ask yourself, “what do I want and when do I want it by?” That answer will be your long-term, overall goal. To keep yourself motivated, focused and better set up for success, break your overall long-term goal down into smaller goals.  

“Victory, more often than not, is achieved, by a series of small actions.” - Joseph Marshall

Let’s say its January 2nd and your goal is to lose 30 pounds so you look great on the beach for Memorial Day weekend in a new bathing suit. First, go but that bathing suit, so you have a physical manifestation of your goal. Then your best chance for success is to break down the 30 pounds of weight loss into 5-pound increments with periodic points of success measurement along the way, preferably in your calendar so it’s scheduled.

This is just one example of only one type of goal. This certainly works for weight loss, toning up, strength gain, any health and fitness goals. Here are your steps to success:

  1. Decide upon a motivating long term goal with a realistic time frame that is within your capabilities.
  2. Break the goal down into smaller more manageable increments.
  3. Measure your success and limit frustration from occasional setbacks. Have a focused but flexible plan that allows for necessary changes when needed for success or setbacks.

Remember set yourself up for success. Make your goals challenging but not impossible. If you set out to lose 30 pounds in 6 weeks with no plan, you will fail. If you set out to lose 30 pounds in 4-5 months, with a strong game plan that contains smaller goals you will be on the beach enjoying yourself.



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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.