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by Collin Stark June 21, 2022 6 min read

You don't need a new year, a new month, or even a new week ... you can start pursuing and sticking to your health and fitness goals now!

Maybe you're struggling to stay consistent or you've fallen off altogether...

No worries ... it happens to the best of us. But the good news is, you have what it takes to get back on track.

In fact, you have the opportunity every day to pursue your goals, build new habits, and form a new lifestyle.

Really, every day is a chance to become the kind of person you want to be.

And for many of us, this transformation includes a physical element.

We all want to look better, feel better, and enjoy better health.

But to get there, we need to be able to set and achieve our fitness goals.

That's where things can get tough.

Let's take a closer look at fitness goals, why they're important, and how to avoid common pitfalls that keep people from reaching them.

What Makes a Good Fitness Goal?

Enthusiasm and excitement are both important parts of self-improvement.

Yet, when we're first getting started, sometimes we let that enthusiasm lead us to unrealistic expectations for ourselves.

I know I have fallen into the trap of setting some very difficult and unrealistic goals for myself in the past.

It’s easy to say, “I’m never going to eat chocolate again,” or “I’m going to run a full marathon by the end of the month.”

But when we fall short, it can end up ruining our experience and zapping our motivation.

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In a way, the wrong goals can actually do us more harm than good.

Side note: I am NOT saying to limit yourself, because we are all capable of so much more than we think. Nor am I discouraging having massive goals and dreams ... because that's important.

I am just saying that your fitness goals should be realistic ... especially when it comes to the time-frame. For example, none of us are going to train to be the fastest long-distance runner in the world in just a week's time.

On the other hand, when goals are vague or too easy to accomplish, they often don't give us the motivation we need to stay committed.

Making real, positive changes with your health and fitness starts with setting the right goals.

That means taking a purposeful approach to your fitness goals.

Start by identifying what you want and be specific.

Specific goals can be easier to measure, allowing you to track your progress.

Your goals should also be realistic, while still outside of your comfort zone.

Ideally, your fitness goals should be just beyond what you think may be possible.

But don’t let that worry you; pushing yourself to reach a difficult goal means that you’ll be making progress, so don't worry if you fall a little short.

Finally, break your big goals down into several smaller ones.

It’s normal to want to keep your eye on the prize...

But waiting for too long before you accomplish anything can be demotivating.

Smaller, confidence-building goals help keep you motivated. They act as important milestones on your way to your main objectives.

Setting your fitness goals is an important first step in improving your health, but only if that step starts off on the right foot.

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Why Should You Set Fitness Goals?

Is it possible to make progress without setting specific goals?

Absolutely it is. It’s just not nearly as likely.

This is because fitness goals hold us accountable.

They give us something concrete to shoot for.

Without specific goals, it’s too easy to accept lesser progress, or to lose interest entirely.

But perhaps even more than that, goals allow us to see our progress.

Think about any large-scale task you have to accomplish...

Oftentimes, the first step is to create a list of basic daily tasks. It does not have to be a long list, typically 3-5 things that will allow you to move forward and build positive momentum.

For example:
1. Drink 100-120 oz of water daily
2. Track Your Food
3. Exercise Daily (or at least go for a walk to get up and moving)

As you check them off, these daily tasks let you know that you’re heading in the right direction.

When done consistently, these tasks compound on each other. This will solidify your new habits and help you make massive progress toward your goal.

When your fitness goals are organized and measurable, you'll have clear objectives to complete. You'll also have a step-by-step game plan to see real improvements.

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Common Mistakes

Setting fitness goals may sound like a straight-forward concept, but it’s not.

There’s a right way and a wrong way to plan for improved health.

Unfortunately, sometimes we can make mistakes when it comes to setting our goals.

It doesn't matter what your goal is: look better, feel better, improve your athletic performance, or anything else ... you have to watch out for the following mistakes:

Setting the Wrong Goals

Your fitness goals really should be your fitness goals.

Your goals should be personalized to your body, lifestyle, and needs.

A professional basketball player or a Navy SEAL is going to have different fitness goals than someone with a 9-5 job.

And that's how it should be. Fitness is about finding the optimal approach to YOUR health.

One thing is finding the right guidance to help steer you in the right direction. Whether that is a trainer, or someone here inside of the 1st Phorm community, it always helps to get advice from someone who has been there!

Being Willing to Revise Goals that Don’t Work

There are few things as demotivating as failure.

And when fitness goals aren’t producing results — for whatever reason — it’s not uncommon for people to want to throw in the towel.

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But a lack of results doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ve failed.

Goal setting sometimes just comes down to trial and error. You may have to revisit and refine your goals before you get the best approach.

With some tinkering, you should be able to find goals that are trackable and ambitious, without being impossible.

I always remind myself that investing the time and effort gives me more experience and knowledge, which will help me stay on track long term, especially with a little fine-tuning!

Punishing Yourself for Failures

If failure is demoralizing, then punishment only adds to that.

So you missed an appointment and fell short of your gym goals, or you slipped up and blew your diet.

It’s not the end of the world, and it shouldn’t mean taking the metaphorical whip to your own back.

Getting in shape is hard enough. Beating yourself up and making things even harder is not the way to go.

Instead, when you make a mistake, look at the circumstances and try to figure out exactly what went wrong.

Then you can revise your approach, and come through it better prepared to keep moving forward.

The goal is to not continue to make the same mistakes over and over again. Learn from it, and do better the next time!

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Failing to Reward Accomplishments

If you push yourself and achieve one of your goals, that’s something worth getting excited about.

So, go ahead and get excited!

Celebrate your victories and reward yourself for your accomplishments.

This doesn't mean going overboard. Binging on donuts or taking a few months off is not a healthy reward.

Instead, find rewards that promote continued focus on self-improvement.

It could be traveling, buying something for your workouts, or just taking an afternoon for yourself. These kinds of rewards can give you the added incentive to climb the next hill.

Side note: sometimes just having a moment of recognition for yourself can help tremendously with keeping your mind on the path to get better!

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Setting & Achieving Your Fitness Goals

If there’s one thing you should take away from this post, it’s that fitness goals aren’t cookie-cutter solutions.

These are your goals, no one else’s.

To be effective, they must be personalized.

They need to be measurable and quantifiable.

And they need to be flexible enough that they don’t fall apart at the first bump in the road.

Finally, recognize that setting and achieving fitness goals is a long-term commitment.

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We are trying to solidify new lifestyle habits instead of going back and forth.

The objective here is to improve your lifestyle and create sustainable habits.

That means making gradual changes and allowing yourself to adapt.

Does it sound hard?

It certainly can be.

But it’s also worth it.

After all, when it comes to living your best life, there’s nothing more important than your health.

Look better, feel better, and take charge of your fitness.

Setting the right goals is the first step in what will hopefully be a long and rewarding journey.

Want better insight into your goals and progress? Download the 1st Phorm App today!

Collin Stark
Collin Stark

NASM Certified Personal Trainer NASM Fitness Nutrition Specialist NASM Certified Nutrition Coach