Give Your Goals a Makeover! 5 Tips For Setting Achievable Goals

The difference between a dream and a goal is having a plan that will take you there.

Not great at setting goals or sticking with resolutions? Don’t worry. It’s something a lot of people struggle with.

If we’re talking about New Year’s resolutions in particular, research has shown that 38.5% of adults make resolutions each year, but 23% quit in the first week and only 36% make it past the first month (where we are right now). Only 9% consider themselves to be successful in keeping their resolution. Not great odds…

I think there are a few reasons why people struggle to keep resolutions. First, there’s a difference between a goal and a resolution.

Although a resolution is intended to enact some type of change, it’s often vague and generalized, like – “I want to get better at swimming.” In contrast, a goal is specific, measurable, and has a time-component, such as- “I want to become a better swimmer by committing to practicing 3 times a week for 6 months where I will focus on drills to lower my 100 time from X to X.”

We’re not just talking about athletes here. Within the general population, 48% of people want to exercise more, which is great! In fact, the top three resolutions all have to do with improving health- amazing!

But when asked why people “fail” at keeping their New Year’s resolutions or achieving their goals, the answers given include loss of motivation, being too busy, or a shift in priorities. I think the “pass or fail mentality” is a big part of the problem (and something we’ll get into later) but another reason why people aren’t very successful at achieving goals is because they have a hard time setting good ones.

woman riding a triathlon bikeWhen I was younger, I played a lot of different sports before I started doing triathlon- softball, soccer, tennis, karate, cheerleading, and equestrian. There’s something about that last one- working with an animal partner- that really showed me how to set goals that were both realistic and achievable.

First, a goal needs to be specific and measurable. Also, a goal must be clearly defined and have a time frame. A goal requires a detailed plan of action with steps to follow.

Here are a few examples of not-so-great-goals:

  • I don’t want to be the slowest runner in my training group.
  • I want to improve my bike split.
  • I need to eat more healthy meals.

Here are those same goals, but given a makeover!

  • Over the next 3 months, I will work on my running form and aerobic threshold to improve my X time from an X to an X.
  • During the off-season, I will work to increase my FTP on the bike by doing X threshold-focused sessions and X strength sessions, X times a month.
  • Over the next 4 months, I will commit to making a healthy dinner 3 times a week that incorporates protein, vegetables, and grains.

See the difference?

Look at this example: “Over the next 3 months, I will work on my running form and aerobic threshold to improve my X time from an X to an X.” It’s specific and measurable because you can check progress by looking at improvement in pace over a specific distance. Also, it has a time frame of 3 months and is clearly defined with a detailed plan of action to follow that includes working on running form and improving aerobic threshold.

Still, just because you set a great goal, that doesn’t mean you will achieve it, at least not right away… Give yourself a little grace and be flexible when things don’t go exactly as planned. I don’t think about goals as a “pass or fail” proposition. Since when did you achieve something the first time you tried it? I normally don’t.

woman on a bike wearing sunglasses smilingHere are more great tips I’ve learned over the years that help with setting and achieving goals.

#1- It’s best if goals are framed in positive terms. Instead of describing a goal in a negative manner of what not to do, reframe your way of thinking to what you want to do.

#2- Write down your goal and keep it in a place where you will look at it every day.

#3- Keep a record of progress towards your goal. Seeing consistent improvement helps with motivation.

#4- Don’t get frustrated if you slip up, make a mistake, or don’t see progress right away. All that matters is that you keep trying.

#5- Find a group of like-minded people that support you, and in turn, will support your efforts toward achieving your goal.

Remember the 5 Steps to Setting Great Goals:

Make sure your goal is…

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Clearly defined
  • Has a time frame
  • Has a detailed plan of action with steps to follow

There’s so much more I could write about this topic, like the difference between process-driven goals and results-driven goals and which work best, but I’ll save that for another time…

For now, best of luck in setting, and reaching, your goals!

If you’re new to the blog, I drop new posts on Tuesday and Thursday of each week. Be sure to follow @bblife234 and @thetriplethreatlife on Instagram to find out when they’re live.