How to set goals and stick to them How to set goals and stick to them

A staggering number of people who set goals, never actually achieve them. One study out of the US showed that 92 per cent of those that sent a New Year’s resolution, never actually followed through. So, how can you make like the other eight per cent and start winning at life? Here’s how:

Set specific, measurable goals

Research shows that specific, measurable goals are the most motivating. Don’t just ‘plan to lose weight before summer’, decide how much weight you’re going to lose and set a date. For example, ‘I am going to aim to lose a kilogram each week for 5 weeks’ has a start and an end point, while the goal of ‘Losing weight’ is undefined and hard to grasp. How much will you lose, when will you lose it by? Without a firm goal in mind you might be more lenient with yourself and find the goal harder to stick to.

Similarly, if your plan is to become a faster runner, you need to work out how much you want to increase your speed by, and set weekly goals in small, measureable increments as you work toward your goal speed. Ensuring you have specific, measurable goals will help you stay accountable on a week by week basis.

Make your goals realistic

Your goals need to be realistic. Aiming to fit into a pair of size 10 jeans when you’ve never worn a size 10 in your life is going to be a bit of a stretch. While this may be a long-term goal for you, it could be unrealistic in the short term. When goals are too far out of our reach, our resolve tends to waver. Start with little goals that you can achieve on a more condensed timeline.

Also, keep in mind that as you get closer to your full potential, your margin for continued improvement diminishes. Setting little goals means you can adjust them over time to suit your changing body.

Work out how you are going to achieve your goals

It’s no good just deciding to lose weight or run a half marathon. You need to work out how you are going to do this. Are you going to go to the gym more often, eat smaller meals, or spend your lunch breaks running?

Write down what you need to do and make a strategy for how you are going to do this. Be kind to yourself, running for an hour every day could cause you to burnout quickly. Include exercise rest days and little treats in your diet every now and then.

If you’re unsure how to go about achieving your goals, get in touch with one of Fernwood's Food Coaches or Personal Trainers. They can make a food or exercise plan tailored to your specific goals. They’ll also be able to let you know if your goals are unrealistic and help guide you towards a more realistic goal.

Give yourself a reward

There’s a reason why the contestants on weight loss shows like The Biggest Loser have such great weight loss success: money.

It’s unlikely you’ll be able to reward yourself with an extra hundred thousand once you’ve reached your fitness goal, but having a small metaphorical carrot dangling above your head can give you the extra boost you need to get there. Maybe there’s an expensive dress you’ve had your eye on, but you’ve made a pact with yourself not to buy it until you can fit the smaller size. Or perhaps you’re planning on rewarding a half marathon with a 3-hour full body spa session. Having a reward in mind can help you pull through when your fitness goal or weight loss goal seems out of grasp and is no longer inspiring you.

Enlist the help of a friend or a group

Surrounding yourself with likeminded people will motivate you to achieve your goals. If you don’t have health-conscious friends, look outside your social circle for support. Start doing more group fitness classes, enlist the help of a personal trainer, or consider joining 12 Week Challenge. Having another person with vested interest in your goals will keep you inspired to do your best.