If you’re feeling like you could use a fresh start, look no further. The New Year is the perfect time to set some goals and work on a better you.

Making life changes and accomplishing goals is like a long road trip. You might take a few (or a lot of) detours here and there, but hopefully, you eventually figure out where you’re trying to go. The path will never be perfect. You’ll get lost and have to find your way back, but reaching your goals is often more about the journey than the end purpose.

So let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of goal setting. Here’s your step-by-step guide to help you reach your goals:

1. Establish your destination.
If you don’t know where you want to go, then how can you ever get there? Setting goals is all about deciding what you want to be and where you want to go at the end of it all. These are your long-term goals. This is the finished product that you’ll be happy with, and ultimately, what you’re striving for. It can be a long way out, but be sure you have that goal in sight. New Year’s resolutions can be whatever you want them to be, but here are a few examples:

  • Lose 20 pounds
  • Get your cholesterol to a healthy level
  • Put $5,000 in savings
  • Quit smoking

2. Determine your path.
What are the pit stops you’ll take along the way? Find those little landmarks that’ll allow you to monitor and assess your progress. These are your short-term goals. They’re the milestones you’ll celebrate with your family and friends, and the boxes you’ll check off as you get one step closer to your long-term goals. Here are some short-term goals that are basically shorter, more specific versions of the goals above:

  • Lose five pounds by April
  • Drop LDL cholesterol by 20 mg/dL by July
  • Save $300 per paycheck
  • Every week, smoke one less cigarette per day

3. Drive your vehicle to success.
What are you going to do today to get there? I promise that you won’t stumble upon your end goal. You’ll have to work to get there, so find small, actionable items you can start on today. These are your action-based goals. Action-based goals may seem simple, or they may seem big, but they’re what will actually allow you to hit your short- and long-term goals. Stop hoping change will happen and start making it happen. Here are some examples of great action-based goals (they’re all daily or weekly tasks):

  • Exercise for 30 minutes a day at least three times a week, eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables each day, drink a minimum of eight cups of water per day, etc.
  • Consume no more than one source of added sugar per day, walk at least one mile per day, take in at least the minimum fiber recommendation (25 grams for women/ 36 grams for men), etc.
  • Create a separate savings account, pay into savings before spending money, create a budget, etc.
  • Start nicotine replacement therapy, substitute your morning smoke with a run, pick a day where you don’t smoke at all, etc.

4. Have a reason to make the miles worth it.
Why is it that you get out of bed every morning? Odds are, you don’t have someone physically dragging you out against your will. Whether it’s tending to your children or making it to work on time, you have to have a reason to pull yourself out of bed. The same applies to accomplishing your goals. It could be realizing that you need to be healthier so you can be there for your kids as they age, or that you want to stop putting money towards rent and purchase your own home. Whatever it is, make it a reason that won’t change; make it something that’ll get you through even the bad days. As Les Brown says, “Wanting something is not enough. You must hunger for it. Your motivation must be absolutely compelling in order to overcome the obstacles that will invariably come your way.” Whatever it is that drives you, find it, and don’t forget it.

5. Share your journey.
If you didn’t Instagram it, did it really happen? I’m kidding on that one, but sharing your journey and your experiences can help form a strong support system. And a strong support system is gold when it comes to sticking to your word. It could be one close friend you confide in, social media posts, or even just keeping a record for yourself in a journal. Whatever you do, be sure to write down your goal and reference it often. Keeping it on the forefront of your mind can be exactly what you need to see it through to the end. Don’t be the person who makes it to February with their New Year’s goals—be the person who accomplishes them!

Have fun setting your goals, and Happy New Year!

“Good things come to those who wait, but better things come to those who go out and get them.” -Anonymous

Good luck and stay fit!

Becca Capell
iFit Head Trainer