How to Realistically set and achieve goals

Define and strategically create a plan for your goals this summer.
Write out your goals.

As summer approaches, many of us are motivated and ready to set big goals to achieve. Perhaps these goals are weight-related, and you want to lean down or gain muscle. Maybe they are performance-based, or perhaps your specific goals have nothing to do with fitness at all. Either way, creating a sustainable plan to accomplish these milestones is essential. After all, we know by now that motivation is only temporary. At some point, motivation fades, and we are left with the habits and discipline we have set for ourselves. 

With longer daylight hours and warmer weather, the summer season fills us with anticipation and excitement. It’s the perfect time to start working on new habits, setting ourselves up for success. However, we must be mindful and create a plan that we can stick to, even when it gets challenging. It’s better to take smaller, manageable steps at the beginning than to risk burning out later. 

For example, if your goal is to lose 50 pounds, that number can seem overwhelmingly large when looked at alone. In the beginning, when motivation is high, perhaps you will see some quick results, but that will eventually dwindle and fade when progress plateaus.

How do we combat the threat of hitting a plateau or even regressing in our goals? The answer is to make our goals more achievable by breaking them into smaller, manageable pieces. Each time we achieve one of these smaller goals, we feel a sense of accomplishment, which in turn motivates us to keep going.  

Make a goal to lose that first five pounds over the course of a month. This may not be as fast as you’d like to see results, but it will be far more sustainable and a much more manageable goal. Once you hit that marker, readjust – shoot for another five pounds the following month. 

Every big goal starts with small steps. Time will pass anyway, so it is better to take the slow road and keep your successes than try to take shortcuts and pay for them later. 

Again, once we get an idea of a lifestyle change in our heads, we want to change everything right away. I am guilty of this, too. I’ll get excited about a goal and try to make a hundred different changes in the next week. Once more, this quickly leads to burnout once you realize you have put far more on your plate than you can reasonably handle. 

Instead, think of one thing you wish to improve, and take time to prioritize that. I’ll use a fitness example here. Take one aspect of fitness you wish to improve (strength, lifting, power, etc) and make that a priority over a few weeks. Instead of thinking that everything needs to be done every single day, create a plan of periodization that prioritizes different things at different points in the year. If you are looking to improve your fitness, look at an entire year, planning out which part you will prioritize endurance/base training, where you will push for strength, and when you need to be at optimal performance and prioritize speed and power. 

This does not just apply to fitness-related goals. In whatever endeavors you pursue, piling too much into a daily checklist may work for a time, but eventually, the work will catch up. To make lasting changes, we have to consider reshaping our lifestyle. 

No matter what, we will all face days of doubt. We have days where we do everything right, yet it feels like we are still backtracking in our progress. 

Many people give up at this point, believing that their plan is simply not producing results. 

But this is the worst time to give up on your progress. 

Years ago, I was told to think of my training cycle in 10-day increments. Within that time, there may be one really good day where everything falls into place. There will be eight days of negligible progress—‘normal’ days where things feel neither good nor bad but where the work still gets done. 

Then there will be that bad day – the day where everything feels as though it is falling apart, and nothing will ever click into place. But this day will pass. Even if it is a few days in a row, all we can do is keep moving forward. On that next good day, we will see the payoff from sticking with it. 

Bad days are a non-negotiable part of your goals. No matter what they may be, you will face some great days of doubt. It is okay to modify what you do on these days, but don’t ever give up the progress altogether. 

Whatever your goal, we take the above steps to ensure we do not use our ‘end goal’ as an excuse to fall off the wagon once we reach it. 

It is common to see people set these checkpoints for themselves and stay extremely disciplined to get there, only to have it all fall apart and regress even further back after their goals have been met. 

This is why we take those small steps and accept that long-lasting results take longer. Spreading things out, enjoying the process, and learning along the way will yield far greater results than following quick trends. 

We should still be able to live life by chasing goals and appreciating the process of getting there. Having some downtime after a hard push is necessary, but that push should not be so detrimental to our overall well-being that we fall back once again. 

It is helpful to make a plan for what you want to achieve to stay on track and follow the above tips. 

  • Define your goal
  • Work backward on how to achieve it
  • Find where you need the most work
  • Create mini-goals or checkmarks to hit 
  • Stay consistent

Create a calendar or other means of tracking your progress. Once you start seeing the slow, steady progress adding up, it gets easy to keep sticking with it. 

Group fitness class are one way to keep yourself accountable. If are are interested in these classes, click the link below to learn more about CrossFit Billings.

Written by Karisa Stapp.

people working out in a group fitness class


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