It’s about that time for checking in with what we may want to challenge ourselves with this coming year! It is normal with the changing of the year to evaluate where you’ve been, what you’ve done, where you want to be, and how “you’ve done” over the year. It is great to set goals about your family, work, fitness, or other significant things in your life. As a physical therapist, it is part of my day to assist others in reaching their goals to get out of pain, perform a new activity, or to change their quality of life through exercise and nutrition. However, setting goals does not need to be limited to fitness or nutrition and the strategies used to reach health goals can be used to achieve other goals as well! Check out the tips below about goal setting:

It is important to work on setting a SMART goal:

Specific: The more specific the goal, the more intentional you are. If it is too general, it is much less likely to be met.

Measurable: It needs to be something that is clear when it is accomplished. Negative example: I want to walk more. Positive example: I want to walk 2 miles 3 months from now.

Attainable: It is important for goals to be challenging. It must be a goal that takes work to reach, but if it is too lofty, discouragement will set in. It will be less likely to reach a goal if it is too extreme.

Relevant: Your goal should be something that matters to you. There should be a purpose to it and it should be significant to you or your well-being. When the end outcome has increased value, you are more likely to work toward it diligently.

Time dependent: There needs to be a time-cap. If you set a goal to meet “in the future,” there is no urgency to the matter. If something comes up in life, there is too much flexibility to change your plans about the goal. Time is a means of holding yourself accountable to your goal.

Tips for setting, keeping, and most importantly REACHING your goals:

1. Start with small steps. Perhaps, creating short-term and long-term goals is most appropriate for you. Example: Running Short-term goal: I will run 2 miles 3x/week for 1 month in order to build up endurance to race in 3 months. Long-term goal: I will complete a 5K in 3 months with a time under 30 minutes.

2. Celebrate your small victories! This will help keep you motivated. And it IS something to celebrate when you are hitting your marks on the way to your bigger goals. Keep it up, it will help prevent burnout!

3. Write it down and tell someone. There is something to be said of writing it down in pen and paper (or typing it out if you prefer). But print it out and put it somewhere you will see it. It is a physical reminder of what you are expecting of yourself and what steps need to be taken to get there. It is also important to have an accountability partner for important issues to you to work on. This person can be more objective than yourself about how you are doing. Choose someone you trust and who is supportive and check in with them at different times about your progress.

4. What is your ultimate purpose and vision? Think about it. Your goal should relate to that! If you want to run more…why? Are you looking to gain fitness or will gaining fitness help you to feel better and have more energy for your family? How does your goal relate to a bigger life goal?

Now that you have had some time to reflect, write a goal down and say it out loud- it’s time to get going!


Dr. Jillian Stecklein, Director of Physical Therapy Services with MyCatholicDoctor

Dr. Jillian Stecklein, PT, DPT

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