Setting Goals to Succeed

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Wellness is about lifestyle improvement, lifestyle change and maintaining that positive change. Setting goals along your journey can help keep you focused on what you want to achieve. By asking yourself, “How can I grow further?” and “How can I improve myself?” you are on your way to enhancing your wellness. Here’s an action plan for setting goals and being successful with them.

Why set a goal?

Goals keep you organized, focused and give you a long-term vision. When you have a long-term vision, you can then set small “baby step'” goals along the way that are relevant to the long-term vision. For example, if plan to run a 5k next year, you can make small goals along the way, like walking for 30 minutes, four days a week, then maybe start jogging, or join a running club. Gradual steps towards preparing for a 5k run make the long-term vision more achievable. 

Goals give you motivation to make changes. Having a specific goal can help you stay motivated to move toward your goal. When you have a visual of what you want to achieve, it becomes more tangible. 

Napoleon Hill, author of Think and Grow Rich, interviewed 500-plus American millionaires across 20 years, including Henry Ford, JP Morgan, Rockefeller, Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Edison. He concluded that the main cause of failure is having no definitive chief aim in life — or failure to set clear and attainable goals — and plans to accomplish these goals.

Question yourself when setting a goal

What do I really want to do?
 What am I doing currently? Where do I want to go? What am I committed to doing? What are my challenges? Strengths? What are some strategies to overcome my challenges? Who is my support system?

For example, you may really want to run a 5k. You are currently walking 30 minutes, four days a week. You want to be able to run a 5k by next year. You are committed to walking or running four days a week for 45 minutes. Some challenges to training may be weather, having someone watch your children, having time to take your kids to their activities or feeling tired. Your support system may be a friend who is willing to watch your children while you practice running. Maybe your partner can cook on the days you are running. Your coworkers may encourage you to walk during your break at work.

When you are able to plan and organize your lifestyle, reaching your goal can become more manageable, and you can focus on what you need to do to accomplish your goal with less resistance and stress.

Goals should be something you want for yourself
. Make sure that your goal is yours and not what someone else wants you to do. Otherwise, you may lose your motivation and interest in the goal and give up. When you are passionate about your goal, you are much more likely to achieve it.

Setting SMART goals:

Be specific. Having a specific goal helps keep you focused and clear on what you want to achieve. For example, instead of saying “I want to eat healthier,” a specific goal can be “I will eat one fruit and one vegetable every day.”

Be measurable and meaningful. Goals need to be measurable so you can create realistic and achievable ones. You can then adjust as you need to along the way. Your goals should be meaningful to your long-term vision and what you want to accomplish for yourself.

Be achievable and action-oriented. For change to occur, you need a plan of action. Make sure you take baby steps along the way so your goals are achievable.

Be realistic and relevant
. Keeping goals realistic can prevent you from feeling overwhelmed and discouraged. For instance, if you are not exercising at all, then making a goal to exercise every day for an hour can be overwhelming or unrealistic. Instead, you may want to start off with exercising 15 minutes, three days a week and gradually work up to what you want to do.

Be time-bound. To make sure you are giving yourself enough time to achieve a goal, it is important to make your goal time-bound. It also helps prevent you from procrastinating on working toward your goal.

More tips to make your goals successful:

Write down your goal. Writing it down gives you a good visual and reminder. Keep your goal close by, like on the refrigerator or on your desk or computer as a reminder of what you want to accomplish.

Share your goal with others. Telling others about your goal not only helps provide you with support, motivation and accountability, it also makes you three times more likely to achieve your goal.cindygoulding-bethmandel_003.jpg

Keep your goal realistic and challenging. In order to grow and improve, you need to set a challenging goal — one that pushes you slightly beyond your comfort zone. It also needs to be realistic for you, so you can achieve it successfully.

Enjoy the journey. Enjoy your journey to wellness, but be gentle with yourself when you have a setback. Use the setback as an opportunity for growth and learning, and continue moving forward with what you can do.

Cindy Goulding, our motivational coach, is a licensed professional counselor, as well as a health and wellness coach and certified personal trainer. She is the author of Healthy Weight: It’s a Family Affair. Her website is

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