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Setting goals you can stick to

We’ve all been there. We’ve started the new year with the best intentions, setting resolutions and finding that by March we can’t even remember what they were. Of course 2020 added additional challenges too, with many races and events being cancelled those goals we had set suddenly had no goal-post.

So let’s break that tradition and set some goals for 2021 that you can actually stick to.

Firstly, what is a goal?

A goal can be many things, but it can’t be a dream or a hope. “I dream of running the London Marathon one day” and “I hope I can decrease my 5k time this year” are both great, but they’re not goals. Let’s replace a few words in the above examples;

“I will run the London Marathon in 2022”

“I will decrease my 5k time by 3 minutes by 1st June”

See what we did there? We took a hope and a dream and made them achievable!

Before we get into how to set a goal well, let’s tackle the bit before that. Sitting down and deciding to set a goal at all can be scary. You might doubt yourself, or perhaps have tried a similar goal before and failed. We don’t want to fail, so why would we set a goal which we might not achieve? Surely just not setting a goal avoids this possibility altogether?

True. But where will thoughts like that get you?! Start by writing down the scary thoughts, then re-word them. For example, a scary thought could be “I’ll never manage a half marathon, I’m not a good enough runner”. Is that true, really? Think back to a time where you hadn’t even started running and then look at where you are now. If you didn’t have a goal at the beginning of your running journey, you’d have never achieved what you already have. So let’s re-word that statement - “I already achieved one running goal, so I can achieve another”.

Now, let’s start setting some goals! Here are our 4 steps to setting goals you can stick to:

1. Motivation is key!

Your goal needs to be important to you, otherwise you’ll lose motivation part way through the hard-work part of achieving it. If you were to tell someone your goal, how would you convince them that it was a worthwhile goal? Whatever the answer is, remind yourself of it every time you start to doubt yourself.


You may have heard about SMART goals before - and for good reason. This is key to setting a goal which is achievable, so make sure that your goal ticks each one.

Specific - Your goal should be clear and well-defined.

Measurable - Put some numbers to it. Set dates, times, speeds etc. For example, rather than saying you want to run 5km quicker, swap to ‘run 5km in 30 minutes’. It’s easier to know when you’ve hit your goal if it's measurable.

Attainable - Make sure that it's possible to achieve the goals you set. If you set a goal that you’ve got no chance of hitting, you’ll just demotivate yourself. But don’t go too easy either - keep it realistic.

Relevant - Goals should be consistent with the direction you want to head in.

Top tip: Display your goal somewhere you will see it every day, for example on your fridge or dressing table.ncy, which will help motivation.

3. Write it down

Writing down your goal makes it real and tangible. Remember to use ‘will’ instead of ‘should’, ‘might’, ‘will try to’ or ‘would like to’. This positive language is the first step in achieving your goal as it starts the mental process of believing that you can achieve it!

Top tip: Display your goal somewhere you will see it everyday, for example on your fridge or dressing table.

4. Plan the steps

So you’ve got your goal, great! Now it’s time to make it happen. The end point of your goal might be a long way off - months or even a year! Set some smaller check-points to hit on the way to the big goal. For example, if your goal is to run a half marathon by June, set a date to run 10k by.

Top tip: Write out all each of the smaller steps as well as the big goal, then cross them out as you achieve them. This will show how much progress you’re making and keep you motivated!

So, it’s time to get goal-setting! Why not download our goal-setting sheet to help you write out your goals for 2021?

My 2021 goals
Download PDF • 3.43MB

“Instead of simply drifting along reacting to what life brings you, take proactive steps to go out and create the future you want. While we can’t control everything that happens to us, we can control ourselves by setting goals to achieve our dreams.” - Deb Knobelman

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