Set Goals That Motivate

Set goals that actually move you forward.

We have all set goals before.  You tell yourself "I'm going to do....."  and then, some amount of time later, you realized that you only worked toward that goal for about a week.  Or worse, you never did anything to reach it.

I'm going to tell you that, if this happened to you, the thing that you are calling a goal isn't one.  It is not a goal.  You have yourself a dream.

Dreams are the ones that start with "I wish I could"  or the ones that you never actually try to achieve.  Dreams would be amazing to achieve but you are not ready yet (for whatever reason) to start working toward them.

This is not about dreams, this article is about helping you set goals that will motivate you to improve.  Goals that work.  Goals that motivate us.

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The Why Behind The Goal


Setting a goal that motivates starts with the why behind that goal.

Why you are setting a goal matter!  "Why" is the reason you keep going.  "Why" is where the motivation comes from.  "Why" is important.

So, why do you want to achieve your goal?

Do you want to lose weight?  Eat "right"? Exercise a certain amount every week?  It does not matter what your goal is, you need to have a reason why.

The more powerful the why behind what you want the bigger the change you can make.  Easier changes don't need great reasons but the big, world changing goals.  Those need big, world changing reasons.

What is a good reason?

Good reasons depend on you.  What is a good reason for you?  What motivates you?  Are you avoiding something terrible or aspiring to something grand?

The "Why" behind your goal is up to you just like only you can decide if it is a good enough reason for you to make the changes required.

I can tell you which reasons have worked best for me and my members. 

The "Why" behind these goals are often about them and their life purpose.  They are for positive reasons and are about reaching towards an aspirational identity. But, and here is where I contradict myself, they usually started by trying to avoid something.

You start working out to get the beautiful woman or the dashing man.  But, in the end, you only keep working out because you like how it makes you feel, you enjoy the way you are working out, and especially because you love the doors that open.

Anything that gets you started is good, but think about and search for a "why" that will keep you going forever!

People will often follow a predictable journey toward fitness.  If you are interest check out our article "The Fitness Journey".

When A Goal Is Needed

Setting a goal is daunting.  So, when should you put in the time to set one?

To set a goal in a way that motivates you, it will take you a bit of time.  Maybe this is only 10 minutes or maybe it will take longer.  No matter how long it takes to set your goal, you will probably feel like it is too much of your valuable time.

You should set a goal when you have something that will take longer than a month to achieve.

The process of setting this goal will turn your dream that will be nice "some day" into a goal that you will reach in the near future.  Take the time.  You will thank yourself for doing so.


Layers Of Goals


A goal needs layers so that we can take our biggest, loftiest ones and make them do-able.

How many times have you looked at something you wanted to do and thought, "that would be awesome, but the finish line is SOOOO far away."  Layering our goals takes those and puts them in reach.

The one I am most familiar with is training for a black belt.  This takes years.  Luckily for us, some really smart people already broke this journey up for us.  You don't go from white belt to black belt.  There are many intermediary steps to help you understand the path you are going to take to get there.

We do the same thing with our big goals!

There are 3 main groups we put our goals into.

The first is Long Term goals.

These goals are the finish line.  The ones that will take a good, long time to complete.  They range from 6 months to years and should give you something motivational to look forward to.  A change that will have, in some way, changed your life.

The second group is Mid Term goals.

These give you a set of markers to go by and help you measure your progress.  They let you know that you are still on the right path.  That you haven't gotten "lost in the sauce" or distracted as you started moving forward.  These goals will take anywhere from a month to six months to finish.

The last group is Short Term goals.

They could take a single day (like the To-Do list many people have) or they could take the whole month to accomplish, but they give you a definite path from one marker (Mid Term goal) to the next.  These goals give you quick wins, keep your motivation high, and keep you making progress when the weight of the bigger goals has got you down.

We layer our goals so know what to do next and to keep us on the right path.

Getting started on even the small goals can be a struggle but if you watch our "Commit To A Littlevideo it should get easier.

Structure Of Good Goals

Your goals need to be SMART.

Smart goals aren't the ones that score higher on tests or wear big coke bottle glasses.  They are the ones that are specific, measured, attainable, relative, and timed.

When your goals are SMART, you know when the deadline is. You know if you are making progress in the right direction.  They are easy to tell if you achieved them.

And, SMART goals help to keep you motivated.



This one seems like it would be easy to follow but most people will say things like "I will be healthier" when setting goals.  The problem is that this is not specific enough.  How will you be healthier?  Diet? Sleep? Exercise?

You have to be specific when you set your goals.


For a goal to motivate, you have to be able to tell how close or far from the finish line you are.

Some things we want to improve are harder to measure, like an increase in energy level after work.  I will often use a subjective 1-10 scale to measure these because it is better than nothing and gives me points to track.

If you can measure your progress, it will be easier to keep motivation high.


Goals have to be "hard" to achieve.  If they are too easy they don't give you a happy feeling when you complete them.  The opposite side of this is that you have to actually believe it is possible for you to complete them.

Attainable goals, are goals that you believe you can finish.


Relative in this context has a double meaning.

If your setting a mid or short term goal, it means that they need to relate to the long term goal. The other way to think about relative has to do with motivation.

Your goals has to be relative to you (matter to you and your life) or you won't care to even try to get it done.


A goal that has a deadline, can't wait.

Failing to set a deadline means that you don't have to start today.  You could start tomorrow. Next week.  Next year!

Your goal failing to be timed is the same as telling yourself that it is not urgent and you have all the time in the world to finish. So, why start.

SMART goals motivate and give you a clear way to know if you achieved your goals.

If you're not sure what your goal is yet, you might find "What Your looking Forhelpful.

What To Do With Your Goals


You did it. You set a smart goal....Now what?

Just setting the goal and forgetting about it isn't going to motivate you.  Leaving it hidden in a file on your computer somewhere won't get you moving.  Placing the paper with your goals on it in a drawer will only lead to them being forgotten.

Now that you know exactly what your goal is, you have to set up reminders that will pull you back in when motivation dwindles.  You may be excited now but the first sign of failure will squash that excitement like a bug.

This is why you have to get out in front of that failure.  Why you have to make sure that you are constantly reminded about what you set out to accomplish.

Regular Reminders

A small reminder can be enough to keep you going.  This can be a post-it note on the front door, a message on a whiteboard, or a phone reminder that goes off at a regular time every day.  If you see this message regularly you will never forget what it is that you are trying to accomplish.

Interrupt Unhelpful Habits

These are the habits that are slowing or preventing progress. This has a range of possible options.

If you have a tendency to eat all the snacks in the house and you are trying to lose weight, you can stop buying snack foods.  Or, make sure that the snacks you have are of a more healthy variety.

Are you trying to be more active? Write "do five jumping jacks" on a post-it and attach it to your TV or computer.  Then, before you binge, do those jumping jacks.

You do not need to make these huge things, but constant reminders and many little changes will lead to big change over time.

Failure is not a reason to give up, it is just a reason to try a new tactic.  Watch "Forgive Your Failures" any time you need a reminder of this.


Setting a Goal That Motivates is not an easy task but it is a worth while task.  Goals That Motivate you are more likely to get you where you want to be.  Change requires change so follow the tips in this article to set Goals That Motivate you to make that change.

  1. The Why Behind Your Goal can give you the reason you need to make the big change...If it is the right why.
  2. When To Set Goals is any time it will take a long time or the change has to be made.
  3. Use the Layers Of Goals to breakdown the big lofty ones into manageable pieces.
  4. The Structure Of Goals should always be SMART so you know when you have crossed the finish line and it feels good to do so.
  5. Placing constant reminders in your life is What To Do With Your Goals after you set them.