Five Steps to Better Goals That Survive the First Month

A friend of mine has lost 130 pounds since January 1 this year. He’s following a nutrition plan and hasn’t strayed once since he started. Not one single stray bite of anything he’s not supposed to eat.

It’s obvious he’s losing weight so people are curious about what he’s doing. They also want to know how hard it’s been. My friend says it hasn’t been hard at all, but he feels awkward saying that because he doesn’t want to discourage others who have tried to lose weight, but given up.

This isn’t the first time my friend has been on a weight loss journey. He tried several times before, but with no success. The difference this time is intentionality. His goal is not fueled by his emotions. It doesn’t matter how he feels about life or the food he’s eating or not eating. He’s committed to success and nothing is going to knock him off course.

I love his story because I have a long history of goal failure. It’s an encouragement to hear of someone else who has failed, but is now succeeding.

For years, my goal strategy was this. I would sit down, usually around the end of the year, and decide what I wanted in the new year. I would think of all the things about myself I wanted to change and write one or two goals for each. I’d run through categories like health, finances, career, relationships, personal growth, fun adventures, etc…

In one fun filled, emotion fueled, transformation promised session I would write down everything I could think of. I was so excited when I finished because the new me was going to be so awesome. I couldn’t wait to get started.

But, guess what always happened? Yep. Rarely did a single goal survive into February.

Didn’t matter, I kept doing it. Every year. The promise of a new me would fill a new notebook with another long list of new goals. Every now and then I’d change it up and hand craft my goals differently. I’d get more specific about the deadline or describe the end result with more imagination. Didn’t matter. Same result. I eventually just gave up.


Then things changed.

A couple years ago I also discovered the power of setting intentional goals. I didn’t read a book or go to a course. I simply realized if I wanted to change something or accomplish a new thing I needed to be intentional. Emotions were not a good partner for reaching my goals.

Today I only have seven goals I am pursuing. One of these involves health and fitness. The 20k One Year Step Challenge is a part of that. My goal is to get 20,000 steps every day for a year with no breaks. And, just like my friend who is losing weight I’m finding a goal that is developed with intentionality and fueled by commitment is much easier to accomplish.

After talking to my friend I realized we both have a pretty similar approach to setting and pursuing our goals with more intentionality. At the risk of sounding like Mr. Goal Expert, I thought it might be helpful to share my new approach to goals. I’ve boiled it down to five things.

  1. Is It Worth Pursuing – The first thing I do now is spend time thinking more deeply about what I want to accomplish and what it will cost. I have three specific questions I ask to help discern if this is worth my time and energy. A lot of ideas never even make it past this first step which is good because it saves me valuable time and energy later.
  2. Set Two Goals – If I an idea makes it past the first step then I set two goals. The first, and most important, is the BIG goal. What does the finish line look like? How far away is it? After I cross the finish line, then what? The second goal is more immediate. What should I be doing right now that moves me toward my BIG goal? I write these down in a notebook.
  3. Drain the Emotion – Emotions are fickle. They can provide great energy or become a powerful enemy for the very same goal. After I’ve written my goals down I’m feeling the excitement and I’m ready to get started. But, not so fast. I need to drain this early emotion and get myself to where I would be a few weeks into the journey. Because that’s where I’m really going to be living for the long haul. I’ve got a couple specific ways to do this and the impact is pretty amazing.
  4. Schedule It – If I don’t schedule my goals they won’t happen. The old me would expect the emotional excitement to just get it done. And, that would work for a couple weeks. Then as the emotions began to fade other more exciting opportunities would crowd out my goals. Now, I make certain there is room in my calendar. Getting 20,000 steps a day requires 3 hours and 20 minutes. I need to schedule time for that to happen every day.
  5. Hold Myself Accountable – This last step is so important and it was something I never did before. I set a few hours each month to review how I’m doing with my goals. I review the how much progress I made the previous month. I follow that with adjustments for the upcoming month. I never did that before. I’ve learned that the commitments I make to myself are just as important as the commitments I make to others.

These are the five steps. If you want to know more about each step click on the title link for an article explaining it more in depth.

If you’re considering a fitness goal for 2019 I recommend walking. It can change your life and help you win at fitness! Click the FOLLOW button (below if you’re reading on your phone or to the right and above if you’re on a computer) and you’ll get two articles every week to guide you towards a fitness win in 2019.

8 thoughts on “Five Steps to Better Goals That Survive the First Month

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