3 Effective Ways to Stay Committed to Your Goals


Whether it’s training for a marathon, losing weight, or even getting in shape for a marathon, many of us have tried to attain and fallen short of many of our goals. You may have heard the popular analogy, “Life is a marathon, not a sprint.” It’s a popular cliche, and the reason it’s so overused is that it’s true.

In fact, many of us treat most of our lives like a sprint, especially when it comes to goal-setting. Most individuals aren’t happy making progress. Instead, they feel like failures if they don’t hit their goals every time – often leading to an “all or nothing” mentality.

With the “all or nothing” mentality, it’s not uncommon for individuals to fall short and not have the strength to start again. However, if you want actually to hit your goals, it’s essential to incorporate a strategy that focuses on progress, not perfection. Below, we’ve listed 3 effective ways to pursue and stay committed to your goals.

  1. Don’t be Afraid to Start

    It’s human nature to have a fear of failure. We want to start a task, commit to it, and finish it without making any mistakes along the way. However, the path to success in any goal is rarely straightforward. Every one of us will falter at one point or nothing. Still, that should be no excuse for getting started. 

    Perfect conditions do not exist, and if you have a goal, like running in the Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon, you’ll be grateful you started. Getting started only involves clarifying your goal and taking the first step. 

    Staying on the path to this goal is the difficult part, and it’s what we will explore next.

  2. Set Short and Long-Term Goals.

    There’s a famous quote by Desmond Tutu where he asks, “How do you eat an elephant?” The answer: “One bite at a time.” Everything worth accomplishing is daunting at first. However, even an impossible-seeming task can be accomplished with the right short and long-term goals.

    Personal trainer, life coach, and Fort Sanders Health and Fitness Center affiliate Chris O’Hearn offered his insights on setting goals. As he said, I have seen people overly focused on the short win rather than the long game for most of my personal training and life coaching career. Their goal is to be ready for summer in the next two months. They want to lose that weight as quickly as possible, they want to train for that marathon and conquer what they never thought they could – those are amazing things. But, I ask, “What happens after?” and I get similar answers ranging from, “I don’t know.” to “I’ll worry about that later.” and even to “What else do I need to do?”

    Setting different short- and long-term goals can help you create a realistic roadmap that changes your body’s composition, gets you closer to your goal, and puts you in the habit of thinking macro to micro in how you approach your life. 

    Think Long-Term

    Think about what this goal is set to accomplish. First, think long-term in years, then think about the goal you’re currently working towards. It can look a little bit like this:

    • My long-term goal is to incorporate running to help me stay in shape, become healthier, and live a longer life. (5 years)
    • My long-term goal for next year is to run the Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon (2 years) 
    • My long-term goal for this year is to run the Covenant Health Knoxville Half Marathon (1 year)

    Once you’ve gathered your long-term goals, you’ve started creating a roadmap that eliminates the guesswork. When someone asks you why you’re running, you always have an answer of what you’re working towards – helping you stay committed to your goals. 

    Create Short-Term Goals and Rewards

    As Chris says, “a confused mind will create a cloudy vision.” If you don’t know where you stand in the short term, how are you going to eat that elephant accomplish your goals? 

    You need to have a plan of where to start to reach where you want to go. If you’ve just started training and are going to train for a half-marathon before a full marathon, your goals should be S.M.A.R.T. (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound). Here’s an example of S.M.A.R.T. goals if you’re going from couch to 5k in a month:

    • 3 days a week, I will walk 3 times a day for 15 minutes. During my last run of the day, I will run for at least 5 nonconsecutive minutes of this time.
    • Each week, I will increase the duration of my runtime by 10% and the lengths of my walks by 5%.
    • Beginning in week 3, I will run 1.5 minutes for every 30 seconds walked. 
    • On the fourth week, I will jog 30 minutes nonstop.

    From this 5k model, you can build and increase your routine until you reach any running goal on your list. By turning your ambiguous ambitions into S.M.A.R.T. long and short-term goals, you’ve made your goals palpable.

  3. Regroup, recoup, and restart

    So what happens when something comes up? You stub your toe while running, have to leave town for a funeral, or get the flu – does that mean you should quit? Definitely not. Although you may be reading this, and thinking, “Obviously, you shouldn’t quit then.” It’s much more difficult in moments of self-doubt.
    That’s why you should take this as your permission to regroup, recoup, and restart. If you find yourself in a challenging position and want to quit working towards your goals, ask yourself, “Why?” 
    Is it because you’re ashamed of having to regroup or you’ve been setback a week? Even the world’s greatest athletes have had setbacks in their time, but how they responded to these challenges makes them great. In fact, this blog could be best summarized by the great Michael Jordan.
    “Obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.” – Michael Jordan

    Advice from a Trainer: How to Keep Going

    Here are three important questions Chris asks his clients when they seem to have little left in the gas tank. 

    1. “On a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being not at all likely, and 10 being absolutely, how ready are you to make those changes right now?”
    2. “On the same 1 to 10 scale, how confident are you that you can sustain these changes for at least the next year?”
    3. “What do you think you’ll do?”

    So the next time you set a goal up for yourself; the next time you want to quit your plan because it feels too hard or your results aren’t happening fast enough I want you to stop and ask yourself this question before you make up your mind to give up:

    Am I being too committed to the short-term result, or am I committing to live the way I want to at most times of my life? The reason you fail isn’t that you weren’t good enough. The reason you failed is that you were too committed to the wrong things—the short-term results instead of committing to living your life to a higher standard for the rest of your life, not just when it felt convenient for you.
    As Chris explains, giving up isn’t an option. If you want a better life, you may as well plan on regrouping, recouping, and restarting for as long as you live. Start by doing, understand what you want for the long term, and leave your fear of failure at home the next time you think you might face a challenge. 

    Ready to Race?

    Read the article, made your plan, and ready to run in the Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon? Register today!

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