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How to Set New Year's Goals You Can Achieve

Have you ever set nutrition or exercise goals but then given up before reaching them? Why is it so challenging to stay motivated? Read these tips to set realistic and effective goals to help you stay motivated.

Goals, and inspirational word cloud, how to set goals, large

Imagine you decide to take a road trip to a place you love—for example, let’s say, Southern California. You’re driving through Las Vegas and you get a flat tire. Instead of fixing the flat you catch a bus and come back home to Utah. Seriously, who would do that?

Well, that’s what many people do after starting a healthier lifestyle—instead of “fixing the flat” they make a U-turn and head right back to their old habits. Just like planning for a vacation, you need to plan to have a successful lifestyle change. Here are some tips to help you create and stay motivated:

Set Attainable Goals

a. Create S.M.A.R.T. goals

(i.e., goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely)

b. Make goals action-oriented

Goals based on body image are rarely successful and don’t promote a long-term lifestyle change. So, instead, make goals around an action or outcome (e.g., “I will run a 5K in June of this year.”)

c. Prioritize

After creating your action-oriented wish list, number each goal by priority.

d. Set up a reward system

It’s okay to reward yourself with something you’ve been wanting once you attain a goal. For example, “Once I complete my 5K, I will buy myself a new pair of running shoes.”

e. Break big goals into smaller ones

“I will start a Couch-to-5K program now to be ready for my 5K in May. I will exercise at least 3 days per week.”

Create Your Personal Fitness Wish List

Write down every health and fitness goal you have ever thought of achieving (e.g., Run a 10K, learn to rock climb, workout consistently 4x/week.)

Remember, base the wish list on actions, not outcomes or body image. For instance, instead of making a goal to lose ten pounds, make it a goal to walk or run three times a week.  

Related: Healthy you--All-year Long

Identify Obstacles to Success 

List the obstacles that have prevented you from achieving success in the past and anything you think may keep you from success in the future. Develop some strategies to overcome each obstacle. The first one is done for you.



I don’t have enough time

  • Make an appointment for exercise
  • Break my exercise up into smaller segments of time
  • Make a “time waster list” and replace one of my time wasters with exercise
  • Make exercise a priority now before poor health makes it a priority


With these tips, you’ll see a new and improved you before you know it—attaining goals left and right. And while you’re here, check out my other healthy living articles.

 Related: Cold Weather Workout Tips--How to Stay Fit When It's Cold


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The content presented here is for your information only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, and it should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Please consult your healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns.

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Post Author

Cami Flygare

Cami Flygare is a personal trainer and fitness instructor at SelectHealth. She teaches spinning, strength training, yoga, and TRX classes (to name a few). She enjoys cycling, mountain biking, rock climbing, and skiing with her family.