How to set fitness goals that work

How to set fitness goals that work

A lot of the time, when people talk about improving their health, they want to learn how to set fitness goals that work.

There are lots of health and fitness tips out there. Enough of them to be confusing, even contradictory. Ever swept your eyes over a recommended fitness program and realised you actually need 28 hours in a day to complete the challenge? Yeah, so other people’s goal plans might not be the best choice for you.

So what exactly do you need to get your fitness goals to work?

The size of the goal isn’t really the issue. You do need to choose a new fitness level that will both challenge you and be achievable. This will be different for everyone, depending on your current health and fitness plan, lifestyle and values.

No matter how big or small your 2018 fitness goal might be, whether you are looking to be a dress size smaller or half your current weight, walk three kilometres without a knee brace or enter your first marathon your goals will need to follow a winning structure.

How to set fitness goals that work

The formula for success is I’M SMART

Many people use SMART goals, what I have found is there is still something missing from that formula. If a person has a SMART goal but they are not excited about achieving it, it doesn’t work out, even if everything else is perfect.

You have to LOVE what that goal will bring. For that reason it’s really important to choose activities for fitness that you really adore. Maybe they are new to you and you don’t know yet if you will like them, that’s okay, the idea of doing them or learning them can still be exciting for you.

If you hate jogging, choose swimming, if you don’t like gyms, try boxing. There are so many incredible ways to get fit that can challenge or excite you so let’s start right there.


Think ACTIVE has to be in the gym? Think again. Here are some examples to get you started. Make your own list of activities you love doing or would enjoy learning.

If you are really not a fitness person at all, go for group activities where you can socialise as well. Think about group personal training, yoga classes and gym classes. If you’re number one activity is TALKING embrace it. Join walking groups where you can walk and talk at the same time, or gather some friends and create your own group. Make a habit of walking while you are making phone calls, so you are not stuck in a seated position all day. If you love watching TV get a cross fit trainer or step machine so you can exercise while you watch. It’s better to do something you love consistently than go all-out on a “I have to” or an “I should” goal that will fizzle after a week or two.

Saying that, you can always get an NLP Swish Pattern mindset change in place that can enhance your enthusiasm naturally for just about anything.

If you are serious about changing your lifestyle then surround yourself with people who love what they do and are passionate about it. Their enthusiasm will rub off on you. Hire a personal trainer or join a dedicated workout group- the key here is to get over the feeling of intimidation or inadequacy quickly. Yes you will be a long way behind them, it’s kind of the point. If you get this method right your fitness will improve so rapidly you’ll be pinching yourself, and your semi-pro team will love helping you and sharing their passion. I dare you to do this one, you’ll thank me later.

So now that your goal is INSPIRING AND MOTIVATING you can move into the SMART stuff.


Just saying you want to get healthy is too general. You need to really get specific and clear about how your goal is going to be achieved.

“I am going to be healthy by eating fresh foods, walking 30 minutes every day and drinking two litres of water.”

This gives your mind a targeted focus for what to do, how to do it and how long for.


When your outcome is measurable you have a way to track your progress and keep going to the desired result.

If you say, “I want to lose weight” it’s not something you can measure. If you were to lose 500gms you have achieved your goal, which can halt progress. After all, you lost weight, time to relax and put your feet up, even though you are a long way from how you want to look and feel.

Put as many figures as you possibly can into your goal. The unconscious mind works really well with numbers. Numbers not only offer a clear and dedicated focus point but also stay in your memory longer.

Your goal doesn’t need to be about weight, if it is, keep it positive. Rather than how much you want to lose, write down what size do you want to be when you finish (keeping in mind if you are looking to increase muscle tone and strength you may gain weight which is healthy and important to factor into your final figure).

You can use weight, clothing size or body measurements.

A fitness goal might also be about performance. Instead of a weight goal you can decide how far you run in a certain time, or how many laps of the pool you are going to do. Pick something that adds to your Inspiring And Motivating section.

If you would like an emotional outcome, like, “I want to feel confident on a date” you have two options. Ask yourself what it will take to feel confident (i.e. I have a flat tummy – which you could have as a measured size. My waist will be 32cms. And/or you can rate your confidence level now and consider what the new level will be at the end. i.e. right now my confidence on a date is level 2. When I complete my goal I will be at a level 8.

Then get a really clear picture in your head of what that confidence looks like on that date. What are you wearing, how are you moving, what do you talk about and who are you talking to?

A = Achievable

Lots of magazines will display pictures of perfect people telling you, you can lose 30 kilos in 30 days or get amazing abs with these 5-minute exercises.

No magazine can know your limits, only you can. If you hire a one-on-one professional they can certainly help you set a goal that is realistic and achievable because they are talking to you and taking your personal circumstances into account. Otherwise, you need to set a goal that works for you and you alone.

It’s important that the goal you pick is healthy. Losing weight rapidly, working out for too long or too many consecutive days and dangerous diets are hazardous to your long-term physical, emotional and mental health. Be kind and loving when you make your goal. Choose something you can achieve in a realistic timeframe that will stretch your ability. When you get there, then you can set a new goal to keep you moving forward if you like.

If the goal you set has you feeling a blend of nervous and excited, you’ve hit the right mix of challenging and achievable.


Just like setting an unachievable goal kills motivation, a goal that’s too easy is boring and you’ll find more exciting and rewarding things to do.

Make sure there is enough risk to get your blood thumping. While continued unrelenting stress is unhealthy, some stress is good. Exciting stress releases a bunch of good chemicals into our blood stream that keep us motivated and excited about life and our opportunities. I’m not saying you need to go skydiving to feel this rush, the level of risk you choose will be relevant to your personal values and your lifestyle.


Having a tangible goal is like having a really juicy carrot dangling in front of a donkey. Just like in the example I gave of measuring your emotional levels above, get really connected to the goal outcome by visualising the result.

Cast your mind to a specific time in the future when your goal is achieved. You need to know if you are setting a three-month, six-month or one-year goal.

Go to that exact moment in your future and picture how you will look, feel and behave when you reach your goal.

Having this tangible and desirable outcome will make the hard work so worthwhile. Without this pleasurable and personal connection to how much you love your outcome your unconscious mind may quit at the first sign of difficulty, thinking, “It’s just not worth it.”

With this visualisation it will be worth it. Every bit of sweat and every early morning will be nothing compared to how incredible you feel at the end.

Include as much detail as you can in your future projection and remember to keep it positive.

Once you have your goal ready double-check it against the I’M SMART method to make sure it does everything you need it to do.

Reaching your goals is possible as long as your believe I’M SMART enough to go all the way!

If you are excited about setting your health goal and would like to form a network of people to cheer you on and support you, join us at our next free Live it Now event and get those goals and your team together in one powerful weekend!

Kindest regards,

Matt Catling

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