Lofty goals are fun. However, they can be difficult to attain. Here’s some ideas for how to set realistic goals – goals you can achieve to improve your life, without setting yourself up for failure.

Make a list

No one is perfect, and we all have several habits that affect our health in a negative way. Maybe it’s your happy hour habit, maybe you could drink less soda, maybe that late night snacking is having a detrimental effect on your health. Take an honest look at your lifestyle and make a list of habits you can improve. Don’t judge yourself and don’t edit the list. No one is going to see it.

Set small goals

Take a look at your list. What is one thing you can tackle right now? Today? Rather than decide to cut soda out of your diet, decide to cut back. If you normally drink 3 cans of soda, cut it back to 2 cans for a week, then cut it back to 1 can a day for a week. After that you’re ready to cut it out of your diet all together.

Plan to achieve them

Simply cutting something out of your routine is often not enough. Sometimes it often works better to replace your unhealthy habits with healthy habits. For example, if you’re going to cut soda out of your diet, what are you going to replace it with? Plan how you’re going to achieve your goals. Soda can be replaced with bubbly mineral water or green tea. Now you’re not only eliminating an unhealthy habit from your life, you’re adding a healthy habit. It’s win, win.

Set goals that are measurable

Usually it isn’t enough to set a goal of exercising more or eating healthier. If you want to be successful, it’s a good idea to set goals that can be measured. Continuing with the soda example, if you know how many cans of soda you normally drink, it is easy to create a plan to eliminate the soda from your diet and it is easy to know when you’ve achieved your goal. If instead you set a goal of drinking more water, how will you know when you’ve attained your goal?

Set goals that are timely

If you set a date to have accomplished your goal, you are more accountable to achieve your goal. Take a look at your goal. How long will it realistically take you to achieve it? What smaller steps can you add to your goal to make it almost guaranteed you’ll achieve it? For example, you could be looking to start a running program. Set a goal to be able to run ten miles in four months – twelve weeks. Now you can look at your calendar and determine how many miles you’ll be able to run by the end of the first month, the end of the second month and so on.

Move onto your next goal

Tackle one goal at a time. Once you’ve achieved success, keep the ball rolling and tackle your next goal right away. You know how to set realistic goals for success, so keep it going!

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