The Basics of Goal Setting

December 21, 2009

Last week I told you that when it comes to changing your behavior, it’s best to resolve all year long, not just to wait until January 1st or until a big event is on the horizon. A big part of making changes is planning in advance — just as you would plan for a party or study for a test, you need to make a plan for how you will accomplish the changes you want to make. Planning for behavior change is best done by setting goals.

Goal setting is an important tool to use to help you progress on your road to a healthier lifestyle. In order to achieve the dietary and lifestyle changes you are striving for, it is important that you establish both long-term and short-term goals.

Long-term goals need to be clear statements of what you want to accomplish. These types of goals can be general, such as “I want to lose 50 pounds,” or “I want to eat healthier.” It is best to make only 1 to 2 long-term goals at one time. Additionally, to increase your chances of accomplishing your long-term goals, it is important to break them down into mini, short-term goals.

Short-term goals help you  reach your long-term goals. For example, if your long-term goal is “I want to lose 50 pounds,” a short-term goal may be “I will exercise 4 days a week for 30 minutes each day.” The short-term goal of exercising for this specific amount of time will help you achieve the desired weight loss over time.

In general, goals should not be open-ended. Short-term goals especially should have 3 major characteristics. They should be:

  • Attainable
  • Measurable
  • Behavior-Oriented

What do each of these characteristics mean in the context of goal-setting? Find out later this week in the Make Your Goals Count post!

Do you have any long-term goals?

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  1. I definitely agree with setting goals year long. I would like to become more organized so that it a goal that I plan to start working on later this week. I plan to start with organizing all of the recipes I’ve torn out of magazine or printed off the internet. I have piles of them everywhere…I need them in some sort of order! 🙂