Goal setting and motivation

Posted: December 12, 2010 in Psychology

Goal setting is defined as “A process for thinking about an ideal outcome, and for motivating yourself to turn this vision of the future into reality.” It plays an important role in your journey to health and fitness because it encourages you to continue to improve and gives you a standard measurement of your progress.


How do you set goals for yourself? Firstly, we would set a long-term goal that you would see yourself achieving that in probably 1 to 2 years. Then we would break this goal down into smaller goals called short-term goals that you can see yourself achieving in 1 to 2 months. For example, let’s say that a person wishes to lose 12kgs in a year. When we break this down into smaller periods, it would come up to be about 1kg a month. This can help you to track your progress. Most people set a long-term goal for themselves but fail to set short-term goals. This could possibly cause them to give up because the long-term goal seems like such a tall order to them! By breaking it down, we can make it seem more achievable and in a planned manner too.


Next, we will to set smart goals for yourself using the SMARTER principles! Your goals set must be:

Specific – Instead of “I want to lose weight”, use “I want lose 2kgs.”

Measureable – How are you going to record your progress?

Action-oriented – Identify the steps that you will take to achieve this goal.

Reasoned and realistic – Ask yourself why you would want to achieve this goal? Also, is this goal set realistic?

Time-based – Identify how long you will take to complete this goal. For example: “I want to have my 6 pack abs” vs “I want to have my 6 pack abs by Chinese New Year”.

Enjoyable – Are you goals set enjoyable? If it is enjoyable, it can help to shorten the time taken to achieve the goal.

Resourced – Identify the resource you would need to achieve your goal (time, money, support, information, etc.) and list down any sacrifices you would have to make.


Now that your goals are set, how are you going to motivate yourself to achieve these goals? As we know, motivation is the driving force that helps us to achieve our goals. Motivation is said to be intrinsic or extrinsic.

Intrinsic Motivation: Refers to motivation that is driven by an interest or enjoyment in the task itself, and exists within the individual rather than relying on any external pressure. For example: I like to go for long distance running because I enjoy the runner’s high.

Extrinsic Motivation: comes from outside of the individual. Common extrinsic motivations are rewards like money and grades,  and threat of punishment. For example: I’m going to train hard for my NAPFA test because of the $400 I will have if i get a Gold Award.

A person can have both intrinsic and extrinsic motivational factors. One example would be: I’m doing this to beat my personal best record and at the same time, win an Olympics medal.


To sum up, first identify your long-term goal, break it down into short-term goals and then identify your motivational factors that can help you achieve these short-term goals, eventually completing your long-term goal.

What is your long-term goal and how would you go about achieving it?


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