The Secret to Setting Realistic Goals

Goal Setting

Goal setting keeps you motivated and helps you stick with your program, so it's important to approach it with a thoughtful plan.

The key is to make your goals your own. The more aligned they are with your likes and dislikes the greater your chances of success. So while yes, the sky is the limit, it's important to set goals that you can reach and that suit your lifestyle. You can always reassess goals and set more challenging ones as you go along.

Start with outcome goals

An outcome goal is longer term and focuses on the end result. Examples include, "I want to lose 20 pounds" or "I want to weigh 145 pounds."

Outcome goals:

  • Guide your planning
  • Build the framework for shorter term, or "process goals"
  • Focus on an end result

Move ahead with process goals

Process goals focus on a specific process or action — such as "I will walk 30 minutes every day" or "I will eat four servings of vegetables each day" — rather than a single outcome. Many people find that when they focus on process goals, the outcomes (such as weight loss) take care of themselves.

Process goals:

  • Build success one small step at a time
  • Help you reach your outcome goals
  • Are the most important type of goal for many people

Stay inspired with daily goals

Each day create a goal for yourself. It should be something that you can take action on and achieve during that day. Don't focus on weight. Instead focus on being more active or eating better.

Be positive. For example, rather than saying, "I won't eat junk food," tell yourself that "When I'm hungry for a snack, I'll have some fruit."

Daily goals:

  • Are the building blocks for weight loss and good health
  • Provide a daily sense of achievement
  • Keep you motivated to keep up with your program

Include enjoyment in your goals

When setting goals, don't forget satisfaction. A study of individuals who maintained their weight after completing a weight-loss program found that satisfaction with the amount and quality of daily activities was an important factor in success.

This article is from Mayo Clinic Health Information Library and is legally licensed through the Industry Dive publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to

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