How to Set Good Short-term Goals

Concrete is better. “I will take a 10-minute walk at least twice a day” is better than “I will get more exercise.”

Simple is better. “I will exercise at least 10 minutes, at least twice a day, even if it’s just a walk or two” is better than “I will go to the gym before work 3 times a week.”

Accountability to others can help. Share your goal with others at work or in your family. Just knowing they are aware of your goal can help you stick with it.

If you don’t measure, it don’t matter. Keep track of your activity, even if it’s just a hash mark in a journal for each day where you do some exercise. Suggestions for things to keep track of.

Make sure your short-term goals are things you can do. You may have a big long-term goal in mind, but a distant goal can sap motivation instead of supporting it. Start small, enjoy some success, and then reach for more.

Make it easy to do the right thing. Some people pack their workout clothes the night before. Others keep a pair of comfortable walking shoes at the office. Be honest with yourself about what has tripped you up, and look for a good fix.

Need Some Help?

When it comes to exercise and healthy eating, the most helpful goals often involve creating a habit rather than a specific number to hit by a calendar date. B.J. Fogg’s Tiny Habits system can help you identify good habits and fit them into your day, and Brian Wansink’s Slim By Design approach can help you understand your environment (and its obstacles!) better so you can focus on the habits you WANT to have.


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