Goal Setting for Fitness Success – Set Goals and Get Fit


Have you ever wondered why some individuals are able to make amazing changes with the size and shape of their bodies, while others struggle for months and even years with very little progress? Have you ever wondered why sometimes motivation quickly fades and at other times we experience a charge to accomplish a task? The difference is often related to the power of setting a goal.

Goals = Success
There is a scientifically proven relationship between setting goals and achieving success.
The fact is that once you have set a specific goal, it serves like a magnet pulling you in the direction of its achievement. It quickly becomes a constant reminder of who you want to become and where you want to be. It gives you the energy and momentum needed to cross the line between knowing what you want to do and actually getting it done.

Write It Down
The best thing you can do with a goal is to write it down. When you write down your goals, you are really convincing yourself that you can in fact achieve them. The goal becomes “real” by seeing it in front of you. By clarifying what you want and writing it down, your goals come into sharper focus that very instant. The “gold standard” in goal development is the time-honored acronym: S.M.A.R.T. Smart stands for specific, measurable, action-oriented, realistic, and time frame. Below, the SMART system has been utilized to develop fitness goals.

Specific: Make your fitness goals specific. Specificity gives you clarity and the power to feel certain you know exactly where you are headed. Also state your goal in the present tense, as if you are already heading towards it. Weight is a good specific goal. “I am about to weigh 120 pounds”, or “I am losing 30 pounds”. These are specific, present tense goals.

Measurable: When your fitness goals are measurable, you have a point of reference to gauge your progress. You can then chart your progress in incremental steps, and track it on a daily or weekly basis with more accuracy. If you can’t measure it, then there is no way to see the progress. And progress is motivational! Use the scale, a tape measure, body fat calipers, or any other method that allows you to measure your progress.

Action-Oriented: include in your fitness goal the actions necessary to achieve that goal. By laying out the action steps you are convincing yourself of the necessity and ability to achieve the steps necessary for goal attainment. For example, you might include, “I will lay out my workout clothes each night”, or “I am going to leave work on time to make it to the gym for class.” These action steps are the behaviors that are the foundation of your success.

Realistic: You know yourself better than anyone else, so only you can determine the balance between pursuing the highly unachievable and the achievement that is within your potential. You have to believe you can attain your goal in order to develop the motivation necessary to achieve it. Set your fitness goals high, for you will never know your true potential if you do not challenge yourself. But if you realize that a goal is unattainable, then make a “course correction” and adjust your goal. In fact, it is a good idea to regularly review your goals and the progress towards them so that you can adjust them up or down as necessary to keep you progressing.

Time Frame: Someone once said, “A goal is a dream with a deadline.” What is your dream? Now put a deadline on when you will achieve that dream, and you have a goal to aim for. Setting a time frame, or a deadline, creates a sense of urgency. Never underestimate the power of a deadline. We all have dreams or ideas of what we want to accomplish with our fitness and in our life. But how many of us have set a deadline to accomplish them?

Grab a piece of paper and write down your fitness goals right now. I guarantee you will feel differently after doing so. And once you have written them down paste them in a place where you will be able to see and review them daily. A bathroom mirror is a great place to post your goals. It provides the opportunity to review them each morning and evening.

Achieving fitness goals is not easy. But with the power of S.M.A.R.T., you are that much closer to success!

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About Author

Dr. Bret Emery entered the field of Behavioral Medicine with an athletic background and a specialty in physical conditioning. Beginning his cycling career at the age of 14, he went on to live at the Olympic Training Center and represent the United States in international races across America and Europe. See my profile page for more information!

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