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The Anatomy of a Goal

The Anatomy of a Goal

Michelle Millner, PT, DPT, OCS



I’ve written about Tips to Keeping those New Year Resolutions last year. This year let’s focus on the anatomy of a goal. One of the biggest problems people have with not meeting their new year’s resolutions is that the resolutions are broad and overwhelming. Consider this goal: To get in shape. That phrase could mean many different things to many different people. How do you measure it? How do you define shape? The goal is unclear and that makes the steps to reaching the goal muddy as well.

The first step in good goal writing is to:

  1. Clearly define the end goal: I suggest writing those big goals: lose weight, get in shape, run a marathon. We’ll use running a 5k as an example.
  2. Set a time frame for which you want to achieve your goal. If you are going from no running to 5k, you need time to train. Let’s assume a slow training process and say your goal is to go from the couch to running a 5k in 8 weeks
  3. Now break your time component down into daily, weekly or biweekly goals and make each step extremely specific. For example, during week one, I will walk 3.1 miles while jogging for five 1 minute sets. I will repeat this routine 3 times during the week. During week 2, I will walk 3.1 miles while jogging for for five 2 minutes sets. I will repeat this routine 3 times during the week. Etc.
  4. Make each goal is measurable. Then you can clearly define whether or not you have made progress toward your goal.
  5. Review your goals on a clearly defined regular basis to help you stay focused. That might be weekly in order to prep for the new week.
  6. Make someone keep you accountable to your goals. A co-worker, friend, colleague, or loved one. Whomever you need to help you stay focused.

Not meeting goals is mostly a problem with not having clearly defined steps, but rather having smaller, more attainable goals. Remember Rome wasn’t built in a day. That might be a cliché statement, but it is true. If you need help establishing realistic and attainable fitness, health or wellness goals consider coming in for a consultation with one of our therapists.


photo courtesy of Stuart Miles /

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