The importance and efficacy of goal setting for people trying to get fit and lose body fat cannot be overestimated.

We all use goals all the time for everything we do. If you are reading this article, your goal is likely to learn more about goal setting!

But we don’t always set our goals appropriately, so we frequently fail to achieve them.

Goal setting is a discipline, and it takes time and effort to do properly. But once done, half of the mental battle of achieving your goals is done.

Prior to setting goals, I believe it is essential to study your motivations. The stronger your motivation, the more important it is to you personally and emotionally, the more likely you are to achieve it.

Think of a young woman trying to give up smoking. She wants to give up smoking because she is worried about getting cancer when she gets older; because it costs too much money; because her mother nags her about it.

But all her friends smoke and she believes it keeps her slim. Giving up is hard.

But then our young lady falls pregnant.

Instantly her motivation is much stronger, urgent and emotional. She goes cold turkey and quits.

So prior to embarking on you fitness program, you need to convince yourself of the importance and urgency of what you are trying to achieve. You have to really want it, or it won’t happen

So stop reading and go and think for an hour, a day, or a week and get your head and heart ready to make some serious changes…

….and welcome back. Now to set some S.M.A.R.T goals.


“I want to get fitter” doesn’t cut it as a goal. What is fitter?

A better example would be “I want to be able to run 5 kms without collapsing into a heap” or “I want to wear the pants I bought three summers ago”,


If you can’t measure it, it’s not a real goal.

How will you know when you have achieved it? “I want to be able to run 5kms” is easy to measure.


Your goal needs to be possible. No point aiming to achieve longer legs.

Likewise, there is no point aiming to lose 20kg if you only weigh 60kg.


As a keen cyclist, I would like to beat Lance Armstrong’s time for climbing Alpe D’Huez in the Tour de France but it is never going to happen (and I’m not a drug cheat, either…)

Cyclists competing in the Tour de France. Goal setting must be realistic, so an amateur cyclist shouldn't aspire to take part in a race like this.

A goal you can never reach will only frustrate you and lead to disappointment and poor performance. But a goal should also be hard enough to stretch you, otherwise there is very little sense of achievement.

Time phased

You can have the best goals in the world  but if there is no deadline, their motivating ability is low.

So set target dates, but don’t forget to make them Attainable and Realistic.

A few final tips:

  • Don’t set too many goals, just three or four that are really important to you
  • Think about obstacles that will stand in the way of you achieving your goals, and come up with ways to overcome them
  • Reward yourself when you achieve your goals

If you want some further insights in to the importance of choosing achievable target when goal setting, you can read more here.