Setting Realistic Goals

2019 is here and many people are springing their New Year’s resolutions into action. As high as 80% of resolutions set at the beginning of the year will be abandoned by March. Use the following seven tips to help set realistic goal(s) and stick with them this year.

  1. Pick a relevant goal to your priorities

Create a goal that is relevant to your individual priorities and motivates you. Success rates at achieving your goal are higher when you feel a sense of urgency whether the goal is related to your future career, traveling, or fitness related.

  1. Use S.M.A.R.T goals

S.M.A.R.T. goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely) are an excellent way to stay in line with reaching your goal. Example, “I will be able to run a 5k in under 30 minutes by May 15th 2019.” Use the handout at the end of this article to help set a S.M.A.R.T resolution this year.

  1. Create an action plan

Come up with a plan to turn thinking about your goals into pursuing your goals. Start with a general outline of what steps you would need to take to reach your goal. Then fill it in with specifics on a week to week basis. Also, make sure to leave a little wiggle room for when unexpected things pop up on your schedule.

  1. Short-term goals as stepping stones

We have all heard the phrase, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” It will take time to build up towards your goal. Start where you are currently and use short-term goals to help build you up over time. Example, “I will be able to complete six rounds of (1 minute run, 4 minutes walk) three times per week by the end of January 2019.”

  1. Make the time

One of the most commonly used excuses to not exercise is, “I do not have the time.” This of course can apply to any goal that we are adding to our work load. Write out your weekly schedule, so you will be able to see dead spaces of time that you can utilize to reach your goal. Then, write it in your schedule and treat it with the same importance as any other appointment.

  1. Tell people your goals

Whether you tell your friends or put a post on social media about your goal, telling people what you are striving to achieve will help you stick to your goals. Plus, by publicizing your goals, you may inspire someone else to set their own goals.

  1. Accountability

Similar to tip #6, accountability is key to sticking with your goals. Whether you meet with a group, have a workout buddy, or frequently talk through things on the phone with a friend, your motivation will be boosted.





Specific – What exactly will you do?

Measurable – How much and how often will you do it?

Achievable – Can you achieve this goal?

Relevant – Is this goal relevant to you?

Timed – How long will you allow for this goal?


Example:  “I will eat one piece of fruit, instead of chips, for my evening snack Monday through Friday, for the next two weeks.”

The example goal is a SMART goal and a much better goal than this example:  “I am not going to snack on chips in the evening.”



  • buy a variety of fresh fruit
  • leave chips at grocery store


SMART Goal #1                                                                                                                                                                                                           


SMART Goal #2                                                                                                                                                                                                           


SMART Goal #3                                                                                                                                                                                                           




Article by James Collins BA, ACSM CPT, RRCA Run Coach