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Goal setting: 3 tips to stay focused

Goal setting: 3 tips to stay focused

With the New Year comes the inevitable decision to set goals for the coming year. We all want to achieve great things, and usually that involves making changes that may be uncomfortable but necessary to attain the desired end-result.

I’m currently away on holiday in Sri Lanka, and I’ve just finished reading a book by Chip & Dan Heath called ‘Switch: How to change things when change is hard’ (a book I would highly recommend). Gleaned from this book, here are three tips to help you stay on track to achieve what you set out to accomplish.

1.Write down your goal as a positive and specific affirmation with a date to completion

One of the most common goals I hear is ‘I want to lose weight’. This goal is difficult to achieve as it’s currently written because there is no specificity, and no end point to give you something to shoot for.

Notice the difference when you write down ‘by 30 April 2015 I will lose 10 pounds, and I will feel 10 years younger’. By writing the goal down with a date, and a positive association with its completion, you are giving yourself an identifiable target to shoot for, as well as a positive reward when you get there

2. Break down the goal into a series of small, meaningful and achievable steps

The most daunting goal is the one that you see as too big to achieve. The brother’s Heath talk about ‘shrinking the goal’ into a series of achievable and manageable steps, as this removes the intimidation associated with the more lofty end result.

A great example of this comes courtesy of a good mate and colleague Adam Wells. Adam organises pilgrimages to the Camino de Santiago in Spain (, an 800km road stretching across northern Spain. This journey has been undertaken for both a variety of religious, spiritual and personal reasons, but the approach to completing this journey is always the same…one day, one step, one village at a time. Upon completion of each stage of the process, positive momentum has been gained by completing the next ‘step’ in the journey.

By emphasising the small victories on the way to achieving your larger objective, you will manage the process into a series of attainable steps, keeping yourself on track and focused on the immediate next stage of your journey.

3. Identify the steps you have already taken toward completing your objective

According to a US study of loyalty cards, consumers are twice as likely to complete their loyalty card if they start out by receiving two stamps toward the goal. Those who started with no stamps (i.e. by 8 get the 9th one free) completed the card 19% of the time, whereas those who started their cards off with two stamps (i.e. the first 2 are free, by 8 more and the 11th is free) completed the loyalty programme 34% of the time.

The point is to identify what you have already achieved done to give yourself a ‘head start’ on the way to achieving your goal, and build on the momentum that this head start has given you.

Getting back to the weight loss goal, consider what you have already done toward getting started (i.e. trainers purchased-check, planned first workout with James Staring-check…sorry, had to thrown that in there J), you can honestly say to yourself that you are already on your way to achieving your goal because you have taken proactive steps to get there. By identifying what you have already done to achieve your goal you will hit the ground running, creating forward momentum that makes pursuing the goal that much easier.

I hope these three tips will help you to achieve your goals.
To learn more about healthy exercise and eating habits to achieve your fitness goals, contact James Staring, a leading personal trainer in Clapham, London.


James StaringJames Staring is a personal trainer based in Clapham, London. His methods have featured in publications such as Your Fitness, Hello, Healthy, Daily Mail, Closer, and many more. After giving up smoking and entering the fitness industry in 2009, James has focused on his passion to help others transform their health and fitness. However, James is convinced that most people struggle so much more than they need to in an effort to improve their fitness. Through his company, Fit to Last, which he runs with his partner, Ali Page – James has helped hundreds of men and women make small adjustments in their daily habits to transform their fitness and to love how they look and feel.

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