4 Easy Steps to Achieving Your Goals

Submitted 2 years ago
Created by
Amy Fortier

Turn your dreams into reality in 4 easy steps

If you're like many people, you started the year out with grand plans to finally make "it" happen. "It" being lose weight, exercise more, organize all the things, meditate, quit smoking, do less, do more, get good habits, break bad habits, etc, etc, etc... There's something magical about the turning of the calendar to make us want to make changes. But, as we all know, time passes, the magic fades, and all our good intentions fall by the wayside. And yet, there are those people who finish what they start. They somehow manage to keep the magic alive. The good news? You don't actually have to be a magician to make this happen for yourself. With proper planning and the tips below you too can be one of the people who finally succeed at reaching their goals. 

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This is a 4 step guide to setting, and getting, your goals. Since I'm a personal trainer and I work with people who often have weight loss and fitness as their goal, I'll use those as my examples. You can substitute your own goals using the same tips.  

"Tell me what you want, what you really, really want." - Spice Girls

Step 1: What do I want? Be honest. Say it out loud. Write it down. "I want to lose weight." Great! Unfortunately, that's often where people stop. "Lose weight" or "get fit" are unfortunately too vague to be helpful. You need to make that want less generic. The good news is you don't have to reinvent the wheel to figure out how to do that. The S.M.A.R.T. method is a simple way to organize your thoughts. (There are countless articles on the internet about the S.M.A.R.T. method if you'd like to delve a little deeper.) S.M.A.R.T. often stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. Depending on your source, there are other words like Motivational, Accountable, Action-Oriented, Relevant, Responsible, Time Bound, and Targeted and you can choose what resonates with you. 

Let's briefly break it down using our sample goal to lose weight:
  • Specific - I want to lose weight is not specific enough to get you where you want to go. Change that to I want to lose 20 pounds. I want to get fit becomes I want to run a 5K or I want to be able to walk up the stairs without getting winded.
  • Measurable - This involves numbers and is trackable. I want to lose 20lbs, or drop 5% body fat, or run a 5K, or lower my cholesterol by X points.
  • Attainable - I want to lose 20lbs in 3 months is possible. I want to lose 20lbs in 2 weeks is not only unlikely but dangerous.
  • Realistic - I want to finish my first 5K is totally realistic. I want to WIN my first 5K is admirable but setting yourself up for failure.
  • Timely - Again, this involves numbers. Pick a time frame. It will help you break your goal into pieces. Someday doesn't cut it but Lose 5 pounds by the end of May does. It may help to work backward from a future date (like a wedding, reunion or vacation) to figure out how your goal can be broken down.
Lose 20 pounds by July 31st, 2017 is a perfect goal. You can even break it down further and say Lose 1 pound per week for the next 20 weeks. That checks off all the S.M.A.R.T. boxes. 

So now you know what you want. What are you going to do about it? The next step is to determine if you're doing anything right now to get there.

Step 2: What am I doing right now to get what I want?  Again, be honest. The answer may be literally nothing. "I am doing nothing to get what I want" or "I've done a lot of thinking about it." Or maybe you're all over it. "I've joined a gym, cleaned my pantry of all the "bad" stuff, and I've doubled the amount of veggies eat." You can probably guess which person is going to be more successful. Whether you're still in contemplation mode or you've taken action it's important to know which camp you fall in so you can go to the next step. 
Step 3: Is what I'm doing getting me what I want? If yes, great! If no, what can you do differently? You are going to have to ask yourself this question over and over because what you start out doing to reach your goals is most likely not going to be the same throughout your journey to reach it. For example, if your goal is to run a 5K and you've never run before you're going to start with a little jogging, a little walking, a lot of swearing, and a short distance. Your goal on the next run would be to jog a little more than the last time and maybe go a little further (the swearing level will probably remain the same). By the time your race comes around you'll have gotten to the point where you can jog the entire distance (still swearing but a lot more confident than when you started). That person you were on day one is no longer the person you are when you hit your goal. You have to keep asking yourself this question and reevaluating. 
"A goal without a plan is a wish." - Eleanor Roosevelt
Step 4: What is my action plan? 

This is going to completely subjective based on what you want to achieve. You may need help. Maybe you decide to join Weight Watchers, take a healthy cooking class, hire a personal trainer, join a gym, or find a Couch to 5K program on the internet. A couple of things to keep in mind:

  • Break your goal into small steps - immediate, short term, and long term - and determine what you're going to do at each point.
  • Visualize and verbalize you goal - write it down or tell someone about it. Create a Pinterest board with tips, tricks, motivational saying and images. Tell a supportive friend or family member your goal and action plan (lay some ground rules as to how much they should either compliment or cajole you or this strategy can backfire. There's a fine line between being motivational and being critical.)
  • Plan for pitfalls - know what may have derailed you in the past. Think back to the last time you may have tried to work toward this goal (or another similar situation.) What stopped you? Time? Money? Lack of support? Loss of willpower? Try to come up with strategies that will help you break through that particular problem this time. 
  • Reward yourself - Self-bribery is sometimes the only thing that will keep a person going - just remember not to do it with something that is against your goal (no cupcakes for a 5 pound weight loss for instance.) A massage, a new outfit, a new book - whatever you find semi-indulgent is good. 

Now, grab a piece of paper, shut off your electronics (except for this post of course), and take some time to answer these four questions for yourself. Make a plan. Work on it. Reevaluate it. No one is motivated to do something every day. But as long as you know what you are working toward, and how, you'll be successful.  

Note: If you are interested in learning more about goal setting, I am available to speak to groups on this topic. My contact info: rvcamy at gmail dot com


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