Effective Short Term Goal Setting for Every Day Life

By Paul Beach

You found yourself brimming with confidence and excited to tackle your new challenge head on. You dive right in and then poof, six months later your vision is dead. It’s amazing, how quickly that “superhuman, I can take on the world, this idea is flawless” feeling can disintegrate. It usually doesn’t happen over night, but over the course of several weeks or several months. Looking back, you question where you went wrong, you question your commitment and you then you begin to list the reasons why your vision was destined to fail.

The idea, or vision I’m talking about is universal, it’s really anything we set out to do. It can be starting a new business, learning to play guitar, eating healthier and of course, the one I see on a weekly basis – getting fit. In my practice I’ve seen goal setting to be a powerful tool for change.

Along our journey we begin to encounter roadblocks – let me give you an example. When I first started personal training a client of mine, lets call her Carey, had decided that she wanted to get into shape. She wanted to lose weight and build lean muscle. So, depending on the level of fitness we would do a variety of exercises, which I would record and build a workout plan from. As the sessions wore on, I would always see considerable improvement – it’s amazing what 3-4 weeks of personal training can do for someone.

Back then, I worked for a larger gym and my clients were typically members which meant I would see them in the following months. What I routinely found was once the sessions ended the individual would carry on for 2-3 weeks continuing to make huge strides. However, almost without fail, shortly after that my clients would struggle to see gains and eventually start receding, they would hit a roadblock.

Carey was no exception she followed this path to a T. About a year down the road after our her first training session was when I really started to notice this pattern. I think subconsciously I knew it was happening, but I had never verbalized it. One evening, after a long day of work, I had decided that I wanted branch out on my own. While, thinking about this I realized, the best way to get clients is through your former clients. And when do your former clients recommend you? If they’re feeling amazing about how they look and feel. I realized I was failing my clients by not using regular goal setting as a solution to overcome roadblocks.

A Practical Guide for Goal Setting

Grab a piece of paper and draw a line straight down the middle of it. On the top of one column write “wanting” and on the top of the other column write “doing”. I’ve found this to be such a powerful tool I’ve turned away clients who refuse to take part.

The wanting portion of the list are the goals you intend to achieve in three months, the doing portion is the foundation. In order for this to be effective, I’ve routinely found we need to aim our sights high and be incredibly precise

For Example


To lose weight (Not specific enough)
To lose 5 Lbs (Not high enough goals)
To lose 10Lbs would be an example of an acceptable goal. (The goal and number will vary from person to person.)

Across from lose 10 lbs you write how you’re going to accomplish this.


Run 5km twice a week and lift weights once a week for 45 minutes.

I make my client fill out the wanting portion and I help them with the doing. The doing section is very detailed, it will include the exercise routine from week to week, their weight lifting program and their diet. It will also describe the gains they should be seeing on a week to week basis (e.g.: add 5Lbs to your squat). I call these intermediate goals, they’re every bit as essential as the final goal to reaching it. It’s important to note you can do this for EVERY aspect of your life.

Once they’ve picked a target that would require insane dedication for 3 months, I ask them what percentage they could be feeling positive about. Positive enough that they would want to tell their friends I just lost “X” lbs, or I just accomplished “X”. It could be 4Lbs, 8lbs or it could be 5Lbs, this is the catch number. If you aren’t excited enough to talk about it with other people you are going to lose dedication after 3 or 4 months, that’s almost a guarantee. I have an offer to each one of my clients, if you stick to your program and you don’t hit your catch number I will provide free training until you do hit that number. I’ve had one person fail to meet their catch point and that was because the program I gave them was inadequate.

In Summary

  • 1. Write down your “Wanting Goals” – Aim High!
  • 2. From your wanting goals, write down the “Doing” portion – be VERY specific.
  • 3. Write down intermediate “wanting” goals – these goals are intended to achieve your final goal! They’ll help you stay motivated.
  • 4. Pick your catch point – What do I need to accomplish that’ll get me excited, so much so that I’ll blab about it to my friends.
  • 5. Share your goal – Once you write down your goals and say your goal out loud it will feel very real. My recommendation, is to find one or two people that you know will support you 100% and share your goal with them! It’s very important that whoever you share your goals with will support you, you don’t need naysayers to defeat you before you even start!

Goals are a simple, yet incredibly scary thing, because it confirms not only where we have succeeded but where we have failed. 90% is showing up, and day in and day out,goal setting will help you show up. My current goals consist of learning to cook 60 different meals, limiting my work week to 40 hours and surfing my first barrel. I challenge you to sit down and write out 3 goals tonight, remember they can be anything they just have to be specific!

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