How to set a goal and realistically achieve it

In an ongoing series on health, nutrition and becoming a better you, Modern Mississauga has teamed up with local fitness and health enthusiast Julie Cropper to provide tips, advice and inspiration to help you become the best you possible. Got a question for Julie? Send it to

Making any kind of change in life can be challenging, whether it’s quitting smoking, changing careers or health-based improvements. It’s one thing to want to change, and an entirely different task to move forward with it. Over the course of my fitness journey, I’ve often been asked, “how did you get started?” 

My answer? I set a goal. Yes, it sounds easy, but determining what it is you want to achieve is paramount. From there, you can reverse engineer the process so that you’re doing the right things to reach your goal.

Why am I setting this goal?

In my case, I considered whether I wanted to lose weight, get stronger, or to improve my overall health. For me, it was a combination of all three. My specific goal was to reduce my body fat by 18% over a 12 month period. Goals give you something to work toward and help motivate you on days when it seems harder to reach the proverbial “finish line” than others.

Write it down!

I began writing that goal down on paper. Interestingly, this was one of the hardest things for me to do. Seeing goals on paper made them real. It was something I could look at constantly and refer to and it actually helped motivate me. It may not sound like much, but it’s an important first step. Take some time and really think of what you want to achieve. 

Be specific

Simply saying “I want to lose some weight” is too vague. Be detailed and make your goals measurable. Exactly how much weight do you want to lose and why? Monitor your progress by writing your progress on paper. What works for me is keeping a journal to track my progress and weekly measurements to keep me motivated and focused to reach my personal goal.

Be realistic

The saying “keep your head in the clouds and feet on the ground” applies here. Be ambitious and challenge yourself but ensure that your goal is attainable. For example, trying to lose 50 pounds in a week is both unhealthy and unrealistic. If your goal is to lose 50 pounds overall, a more realistic option is to spread that goal out over several months. The last thing you want to do is set an unattainable goal and then get discouraged because you didn’t reach it. Envision yourself reaching your goal and create a plan to achieve it. Don’t be afraid to ask for help in doing so from those who have done it or a professional. After doing some research and chatting with others, my personal goal of reducing my body fat by 18% was both specific and realistic when spread out over a few months. Staying with the fitness theme as an example, carefully think about what is achievable for you. We’re all different and what may take me a month for someone else to do may only take you two weeks. Make your goal challenging but not overwhelming. Set a realistic time frame to work within and remember, all good things take time.

Be flexible

Life is always changing, so our goals need to be flexible. If we get sick or injured, we need to be willing to adjust and adapt to unexpected changes. I’m not saying to abandon your goals if something happens, but be prepared to make changes and get back on track as soon as you can.

Make goals public

This may not be for everyone, but I can say that it absolutely worked for me. Putting your goal out into the world via social media or a blog helps increase your accountability. I’m fairly certain you won’t be shamed by your friends and family if you don’t hit your goal, but on the positive side, they can be the best cheerleaders and support system for you. The best thing I did was to let my intentions be known to my family and friends. I started posting on Instagram and connecting with others on the same journey. Doing this helped me build a support group and kept me accountable. Starting something new can be scary, so having support and encouragement, makes the journey easier.

Believe in your goal

Start by seeing yourself reach your goal and think of how you will feel. It’s cliché, but believe in yourself and know that you truly can achieve anything with a solid plan, hard work and determination. You’ll receive plenty of support in your journey but if you don’t believe in your own goal, there’s a strong chance you won’t reach it. While difficult, do your best to leave excuses and negative self talk at the door and start believing in your success.  

As a fitness and health enthusiast who’s been training and living a healthy lifestyle for over a year, I’m still setting goals. No matter where we are in life, we need goals. Choose a goal that is important to you, stay focused and don’t give up. 
You are worth it!

Julie has a passion for health and fitness and is on a mission to help others be the best they can be at any age. Follow her on Instagram @julescropper.