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How To Set Fitness Goals (And Actually Achieve Them)

Each year, health and fitness goals are created and forgotten. Gym memberships are bought and never used. And clunky home workout equipment turns into dust-collecting clothes hangers.

This phenomenon is not new or unique. This is the case for thousands worldwide who set themselves up for failure before even starting.

Today, we are going back to square one and unlocking the power behind setting and achieving your goals. Think of this as "Goal Setting 101" or "Setting Fitness Goals For Beginners." Let’s prevent the dusty elliptical clothes hangers and the unused gym memberships before they happen. We are going to get things right this time around.


💪 Why Setting Fitness Goals Is Important

Before learning how to set and achieve health and fitness goals properly, we need to understand why they are so crucial in the first place. Think of your body as a vehicle that can be driven toward life-changing destinations. Now imagine driving that vehicle without a destination in mind or proper navigation to get you there. You will find yourself endlessly circling a cul-de-sac. That's what it is like to exercise without a goal.

Some seasoned fitness people may say, "I don't have any goals," but this is often not the case. Even if there is not a clear goal, there is always a purpose, whether to feel and stay young, to keep a healthy work/life balance, or to lift grandchildren without back pain. We often have goals without even recognizing them. It's about addressing the goal or purpose, providing an extra layer of intention to your actions.

If done correctly, setting goals can increase motivation and self-discipline. Don't think of your goals as finish lines, but rather stepping stones. Your journey in life is never-ending, and your goals should be too, always working towards becoming the best person you can be, fitness or otherwise. Next, we will discuss some key factors to consider and what pitfalls to avoid so you have a higher chance of success in achieving your goals.

🗝️ 3 Keys To Successful Goal Setting

Start Slow, Set Small

As mentioned previously, thinking of our goals as stepping stones rather than finish lines is a beneficial mindset to hold. It means there is no rush. Especially when setting fitness goals for beginners, it's crucial to set smaller, more realistic goals. Pick one area you want to focus on, and do so for at least one month. Don't shuffle around between a million different ideas, thinking, "nothing is working!" Your body is a fantastic organism, but just like anything else, it requires time to adapt to changes. Allow your body that much-needed time.

Expect Bad Days

Expect bumps in the road. Expect some bad days. And expect some setbacks. The only perfect journeys are from those online who tell everyone about them. And let's face it, even their roads have bumps. Going into your goals head first with an "all or nothing" attitude can seem great, but when the going gets tough, you can fall behind, asking where things went wrong.

Take a moment to recognize that you are human, and life happens. If you fall behind on your goals, it's okay and completely normal. It's not about the setbacks, it's about bouncing back from them that matters. Staying consistent is much more important than aiming for perfection.

Get Support

From shopping sprees to fitness, it's always better with a friend! If you have a friend or family member looking to achieve similar goals, pairing up and getting support along the way can create the unstoppable force you've been looking for. Not only can motivation be bounced off each other, but pairing up can aid in the battle for consistency if you know you've always got someone in it with you.

gym friend

🤔 The SMART Goal Theory

Now that we've got you thinking about tackling those goals, let's give you the perfect outline to follow. A term originally coined in 1981, SMART criteria follows predetermined guidelines to help you achieve your goal. Think of it as a clear roadmap for goal setting and assessing your progress toward the goal itself. The acronym is as follows:

S- Specific. Focus on just one thing at a time. Hone in on it to increase your concentration.

M- Motivating. It is best if you are striving to achieve your goal for yourself, not someone else. Pick a goal that truly means something to you. Don't chase after a goal that someone else is forcing on you.

A- Achievable. This comes back to creating goals that are small and realistic. If you are working on Mission Impossible to begin with, it is not an achievable goal.

R- Realistic. A goal that is realistic is well thought-out and has purpose and passion behind it—leaving you with much higher chances of meeting the goal than if it were unrealistic.

T- Time-bound. Set a limit. As much as you may want to have forever to complete your goal, remember goals are just stepping stones in your journey. By placing a time limit on achieving your goal, you force yourself to take action and stay consistent. If you don't complete your goal by that time, it's okay. You are a stronger person now than you were before. Just because you have yet to achieve your goal doesn't mean you lost all of the hard work, progress, and lessons learned along the way. Reassess your smart goal, and take it from the top again.

🙌 Ready, Set, Achieve!

Setting fitness goals is easy, but selecting the right fitness goals can be challenging. Take the time to plan and look at what you want to achieve. Surround yourself with support. And take action on what gives you purpose. Focus less on perfection and more on consistency. Remember that even after a "bad day," you are still making progress toward your goal.

Whether you want to tone up and build muscle or lose weight, setting fitness goals is an excellent way to keep yourself on track and motivated. Use the SMART criteria to guide you in creating a realistic and achievable goal. If you have been putting off your fitness goals, now is the time to get back on track. Fitness is essential for the mind, body, and soul. So don't wait. Start now!

This post was originally written for Nivati, the employee mental health platform. You can read the blog post on the Nivati blog here.


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