Chinese philosopher Lao-tzu stated (over 2,500 years ago) that “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”. This is as true now as it was then.

What holds most people back from working towards achieving any goal is the seeming enormity of it. People feel over-faced by the size of the challenge that faces them and it is always easier to defer starting then it is to actually get started.

In this post we will look at how to set goals in a way that will ease the getting started and maximise the chance of you achieving your goals.

Firstly it is important to clarify what your overall goal is. Losing weight, toning up and getting fit, whilst great ideas, are not concrete destinations and make it harder to judge if you are making progress towards them. Decide know how it is you will know you have achieved your goal:
Will it be what the scales say, or will it be fitting into an old dress or pair of trousers?
How can you tell you have ‘toned’ – will it be by comparing a photo of yourself to a photo of someone who’s physique you would like to have, will it be fitting into clothes or feeling comfortable in swimwear?
How will you know you are ‘fit’ – will it be running a marathon, getting to the end of the day with energy remaining, playing a full game of sport and not feel like you are dying?
Whatever your goal, decide know how you will know you are there.

Now we are going to forget that goal – for one month! This sounds crazy, but by concentrating on that long term goal, you are setting yourself up for failure. With this mindset, you will have to ‘fail’ at achieving your goals every day until you get there. You can have a great day, workout, eat well and look in the mirror and say “am I a size 10”. The answer will, of course, be ‘no’ every day until you are. What normally happens is that perceived failure demotivates people and they end up giving up.

Instead we are going to look at the ‘activity goals’ or ‘behaviours’ that you will need to do to get to the long term goal. Think now what you need to do to get where you want to get to. I’m sure you probably know already, but get a pen and paper out and write down what you need to do and how often. Below are some examples of activity goals:

  • Walk for 5 minutes plus, three times a week
  • Reduce alcohol intake to 30 units / week
  • Eat breakfast at least 3 days a week
  • Walk through the gym doors at least twice a week, etc

Whatever you decide on as activity goals, set the amount and frequency at a level which is DEFINTELY achievable, regardless of what happens. With a recent client who bought a Kettlebell for use at home, we agreed the goal of ‘hold Kettlebell in your hands for 30 seconds a day’. Regardless of how difficult work had been, how challenging the kids were being, how tired she was, etc this goal is always achievable. What invariably happened was that the client would then do 5 or 10 or even 30 minutes of her Kettlebell workout. But there was never any reason not to achieve the goal. If you target a 5 minute walk, I’m sure you’ll generally do much more but you can always do 5 minutes.

No matter how tired or stressed you are you can walk through the gym doors – you’ll hopefully stay and have a workout, but just achieve this goal to start.

Now you have (hopefully) decided on your ‘activity goals’ and frequency, forget about your long term goal. We will come back to this in one month, but for now, just concentrate on these things that you can (and will) be achieving on a daily and weekly basis.

Jon Hall
Jon Hall

When not helping people to transform their lives and bodies, Jon can usually be found either playing with his kids or taxi-ing them around. If you'd like to find out more about what we do at RISE then enter your details in the box to the right or bottom of this page or at - this is the same way every single one of the hundreds who've described this as "one of the best decisions I've ever made" took their first step.