Why setting weight-loss goals is important to success.

Every coach knows how important goals are. They provide something to aim for—and a way of measuring your progress. There’s nothing more motivating than a sense of accomplishment, so with every goal you achieve, you create more positive momentum on your weight-loss journey. We want you to set plenty of goals regularly, and we’ll work more specifically on how to do that in future chapters.

You’ll get the most out of your goals if you keep the following tips in mind:

Have both short- and long-term goals.

Long-term goals provide a sense of purpose and keep you oriented in the right direction. They work best if they’re not so far in the future that they seem unattainable: ideally, six months or up to one year. Short-term goals focus on a more immediate time frame, such as “this week” or “this month.” They move you toward your larger goals and give you feedback that your efforts are paying off.

Be realistic.

Setting an impossible goal—say, “I’ll never eat fast food again”—is self-defeating, as only a superhuman could reach it. And an unachievable goal sets you up for failure, which can send your thoughts in a devastating tailspin (“I broke my promise to myself, so why not just give up altogether?”). Focus instead on a goal you know you can attain with some effort—or break a large goal into smaller, more manageable steps. A more realistic approach to the fast-food goal might be: “I’ll cut down on fast-food meals to just twice a month.”

Choose specific and measurable goals.

Being clear about your goal gives you a better chance of understanding when you’ve reached it. Tie your goal to a specific action if you can: Rather than saying “I’ll eat vegetables more often,” try “I’ll eat at least one serving of vegetables at lunch and one at dinner every day this week.”

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