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1 Feb - How To Set Goals That You Can Actually Achieve

This week on my run it’s been hard work. Primarily because it’s summer where I live and it’s already quite humid and hot early in the morning when I usually exercise.

One way I keep running even when it’s a little uncomfortable and I can start contemplating cutting it short and heading home to the air conditioning is to visually and mentally mark out goalposts along the way for me to run to and past. These goalposts might be visible lamp posts or a particular tree in my line of vision that I can easily focus on. I also keep my eye on the end of the run point ahead whilst setting smaller goal markers along the way that I can reach more quickly. These markers are especially helpful while running up those hills that I decided was a good idea to have on my running route. One after the other I pass these markers until I finally reach the finish line and my destination.

I’ve been thinking about those short-term markers that I quickly reach as I run and how any goal we set in our life will work the same way.

You can see and set your big vision and know the dreams you have, but to achieve that big vision it helps to break your journey and steps you need to take to be successful into smaller actions so that you can focus and win in the short term as well as in the long term.

Behavioural psychology highlights the power of positive achievement, and the motivation found to succeed in the small stuff. It encourages and inspires you and helps combat procrastination or the tendency to give up when you position smaller wins along the way.

That’s because when you set short-term goals that are regularly attainable, you’ll be far more likely to stay motivated over time as you mark out a defined path to success, focusing on one thing at a time, much like my lamp post or specific tree on my running route. This focus will not only help you stay motivated, but it will also help your productivity and you will achieve your long-term goals faster.


How to set short-term goals

When setting short-term goals determine to have a clear, realistic, and defined long-term goal. Let’s take a goal of a 20kg weight loss or running 5km as an example.

  1. These goals are best written down, and displayed somewhere that you see them daily.

  2. Make a list of motivations. Perhaps you want to get fit or lose weight to avoid health problems, manage stress levels better, or want to feel more confident in yourself for an upcoming event. This list can be a great source of inspiration when the going gets tough.

  3. Make another list of reasons that may stop you from achieving your short-term goals. For example, you don’t want to exercise in bad weather, you’re too busy at work, or you haven’t got the time to eat healthily. Then list the solutions to these problems: Have an additional exercise routine for indoors, make a schedule to make more time for yourself to create a more balanced work/life lifestyle, find some new recipes or do the grocery shopping online rather than having to carve time out of your day to go to the supermarket.

Weekly Check In

Taking time out of your week to check your progress is a great way to retain focus. The 12-week year format is what I find helpful with a defined 12-week plan and then weekly and daily steps to achieve these goals over 12 weeks. It offers the opportunity to celebrate daily and weekly short-term goal wins and gives you the chance to change or reset any unrealistic goals.

Celebrate Your Wins Every Step Of The Way

A really important step is to take time to celebrate your successes; and then to reflect, and remind yourself of your plan.

Our long-term goals give us a reason to start the journey to living our lives with purpose. But setting short-term goals makes our dreams attainable, the process simpler, and more joyful along the way.

Short-term goals are a great way to put wheels on our dreams and get us out on the road to success. What goals are you going to set and start running towards achieving today?

You can also listen to my podcast Going Deeper. Check out this week's episode "How To Stop Being Like A Hamster On A Wheel"  live now

“Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers." (Psalm 1:1-3 NIV)

"Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established”. (Proverbs 1:3)

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)


“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.” (1 Cor 9:24-27 NIV)


Prayer: Lord thank you that you help me to succeed in all that I put my hand to and to run my race well in life. (Psalm 1) . Please give me the wisdom to position both long and short-term goals in front of me so that as I run my race I will continue to win along the way.  In Jesus' name Amen.

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