How to Create and Achieve Life-Changing Goals

Updated on April 13, 2018
Darleen Barnard profile image

Darleen Barnard is a NASM Certified Personal Trainer, Weight Loss Specialist, Behavior Change Specialist, and John Maxwell Certified Coach.

What are your goals?

What are your goals for this year? How about your goals for this month? Goals for this week? Today? If you don’t have any goals, it is CRITICAL to your success that you set them NOW. Study after study shows that goal setting leads to behavior change which ultimately leads us to success. You can increase your chances of success by 91% just by setting goals!!

Would you consider taking a road trip without a map or knowing your ending destination? Without a map (short-term goals), we could end up going in circles. Without an ending destination (long-term goals), we wander aimlessly. Unless you are interested in taking a “Sunday drive”, every morning when you wake up, you must set daily goals to help you achieve your long-term goals.

Benefits of Setting Goals

  1. Give us direction
  2. Increase motivation
  3. Increase achievement
  4. Mobilize our effort
  5. Enhance persistence

Types of Goals

Goals can be both long-term and short-term, and it is important that you have both.

Goals may also be categorized as outcome, performance, and process.

  • Outcome goals are exactly as the name implies – the outcome we want to achieve. For example, come in 1st place in a 5K, lose 10 pounds by July, etc.
  • Performance goals specify the end product of performance and they are usually expressed in terms of personal achievement. For example, run 1 mile in 8 minutes or reduce daily calories consumed from 3,000 to 2,000
  • Process goals specify the manner in which the goal will be achieve. For example, to reduce daily calories consumed from 3,000 to 2,000 calories per day (performance goal), one might only eat 1 serving of food per meal instead of going back for seconds.

Since we don’t have complete control over outcome goals (we can’t guarantee we are going to come in 1st place or lose 10 pounds), it is best to just use those as a guide and focus our goal-setting energy on performance and process goals. Performance and process goals are within your control and they can be adjusted based on your progress.

How to Create Life-Changing Goals

It's important that you use some general guideline to ensure your goals are effective and produce results. The most common practice is to make sure they follow the SMART guidelines:

  • Specific – include a number here – For example, eat 5 servings of fruits and vegetables daily or exercise for 150 minutes per week at moderate intensity. Avoid the use of words like "more" or "less" or "better". These words are not specific.
  • Measurable – make sure you can measure it. In the examples above, we can easily measure it to determine if we achieved our goal.
  • Achievable – based on your current situation, are these goals achievable? Your goals should be challenging, but not so challenging that you get frustrated and quit. You also don’t want your goals to be so easy that you really aren’t making many changes. In the examples above, someone who currently doesn’t eat ANY fruits and vegetables or exercise at all, may find these goals too challenging. It would be better to scale them back to 1-2 servings per day and 30 minutes of moderate exercise per week. Once those goals are achieved, you can then move on to the next level
  • Relevant – do these goals matter to you and do they align to your other goals? For example, you would not want to have one goal that says you are going to run for 30 minutes per week at moderate intensity to achieve your long-term goal of running a marathon in 6 months.
  • Timeframe Specific – what is your timeline? For each goal you set, you must give yourself a timeframe – either daily, weekly, monthly, 3 months from now, etc. This goes back to being able to measure your success and make adjustments when necessary.


How to Achieve Your Goals

1. Share your goals with someone so they can hold you accountable. Pick someone who WILL hold you accountable and not let you off the hook. You will want someone who will give you "tough love" when you need it.

2. Write your goals down and post them where you will see them frequently. This may be at your desk or on your refrigerator or in your car. The more frequently you see them, the more they will be reinforced.

3. Adjust your goals as needed. So many people think that they failed if they have to change their goals. This could not be further from the truth!! The only time you fail is when you stop trying. Know in advance that you are going to have to modify your goals - either up or down. Plan on it and schedule a time each week or month to revisit your goals and make those adjustments!

As you get in the habit of setting goals, the process will feel more natural and you will begin to see some very important transformations taking place! Good luck and enjoy the journey!

© 2018 Darleen Barnard

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