Goals: How to Successfully Navigate Your Fitness Journey

Goals are dream destinations.  They can be things you’ve always wanted or newfound ideas.  Goals gives you direction and purpose.  And every new goal has the potential for new adventure.

Without goals we risk living life at a standstill.  Imagine never aspiring to a higher position at work.  Or never planning for retirement, doomed to spend your golden years dependent on others.

The same goes for the fit lifestyle you want.  Yes, it’s awesome that you’re becoming active and taking an interest in your life-long health.  But if you have specific things you want out of your healthy lifestyle, just waiting for something to happen isn’t going to get you there.

You can save yourself a few months, or even a couple years, of spinning your wheels by setting some tangible goals.

That Goal Isn’t Going to Set Itself

When I first started lifting, I didn’t bother with goals.  Goals, shmoals.  I figured I’d just do it and see what effect it would have on my skinny-fat appearance.  Weight lifting was so new to me that I thought things were going to change no matter what I did.  And they did.  Right up until they didn’t anymore.

Without a goal to work toward, I was just wasting my time.  Sure, I was making progress, but I wasn’t exactly happy with the level of progress. It wasn’t until I set some goals that I started seeing the results I wanted.

When we fail to set goals, workout progress isn’t maximized, which in turn slows physical progress.  Slower visible progress tends to rob us of our motivation.  And that leads to deep, dark places like . . . quitting!  Nobody likes a quitter.

If you aren’t a fan of wasting your time, like me, setting a goal or two can save you a little time and a lot of frustration.

Pick a Goal, Any Goal

There are so many goals to choose from that will both maintain your motivation and get you what you want that much faster.  These are just some to get you started:

  • Weight Lifting – Set a target weight you want to work toward for your squat, deadlift, or other exercise.
  • Weight Loss – Set a target weight or measurement you’d like to achieve.
  • Weight Gain – Believe it or not, this is actually a goal folks work toward, myself included.  Aim to build muscle or just gain some much-needed body weight.
  • Rep Goals – Set a target amount of repetitions for an exercise before increasing the weight.
  • Special Movements – Work toward mastering special body-weight movements such as the Human Flag, Pistol Squats, etc.
  • Conditioning – Set a goal for your cardio conditioning by trying to do your workouts faster or increasing the amount of work.

Not So Fast

Now, before you go trying to set all the goals, let’s take it one step at a time.  I’m gonna have to yank that new motivation mat out from under you for just a minute.  But I’ll give it back, I promise.

You don’t want to start out by setting too many goals.  You should only set a few at a time.  Doing too much at once is bound to leave something forgotten or neglected, and it won’t end well.  (Psssst . . . nobody likes a quitter.)

You know when you have 1 million and 1 things to do and you run around like a crazy person trying to get it all done?  You start one thing, then you see another thing that needs doing, so you try to get that done real fast thinking you’ll go back to the first thing, but you forget the first thing instead, and move on to another thing you see while doing the second thing.  By the time you’re “done” it can feel like you did A LOT, but it doesn’t look like it.  Yeah, it’s kinda like that.

If you focus on 1 or 2 fitness goals at a time, there will be more visible progress because more time will be devoted to just those couple of things.  Whereas, setting too many goals will leave you looking like you’ve not put in much work, when in fact you were busting your ass the whole time.

Get Your Priorities in Order

One way to combat the problem of “setting all the goals” is prioritization.  Figure out what is most important to you, then go from there.

You might decide you want to lose weight first, or you might want to build muscle instead.  Perhaps you want to do both at the same time.

On Losing Fat & Building Muscle at the Same Time – It is possible to do both at the same time, but it’s not advisable.  Not if you want to see results.

Losing fat while gaining muscle is called Recomposition.  Going this route makes fast visual progress nearly unnoticeable.  Unless you are starting from an obese state, you won’t see much happening in the mirror because the process happens so slowly.

Now, if you focus on one of these goals at a time, you will see more progress because your body won’t be putting all its efforts into 2 very different things at once.

If you’re in no hurry either way, then I say go for it.  It’s what I currently do, and it works for me.

After figuring out what you want most from your workouts, the next step is to split your priorities into long-term and short-term goals.

Long-Term & Short-Term Goals

For a long-term fitness goal you would aim for 6 months to a year in order to reach that goal.  And for short-term, it could be anywhere from a week to a month.

Example Goals:

Weight Lifting:

Current squat weight: 95lbs
Long-Term squat goal: 175lbs (4-6 months)
Short-Term squat goal: Increase working weight by 5lbs every week

Weight Loss:

Long-Term: Lose X amount of pounds in 6-12 months
Short-Term: Lose 1/2 to 1 pound per week

Weight Gain:

Long-Term: Gain X amount of pounds in 6-12 months (for bulking)
Short-Term: Gain 1/2 to 1 pound per week

Rep Goals:

Short-Term: Rep goals are pretty much short-term and aid in increasing your weight lifting goals.  Work up from 5 reps to anywhere from 8-12 reps on a specific weight, then increase your weight.

You get the idea.  Setting small goals along the way will make it easier to successfully achieve those big goals.


Goals are a tricky thing.  You have to keep your eye on them or else they’ll disappear, leaving you without a path to follow, alone and directionless.  If you don’t tend to your goals, keep them close and focus on them, they will fade away.

Keeping track of your fitness progress in a journal or app is a great way to keep your goals in sight.  Don’t let all your hard work be for nothing.  Keep your eye on the prize.

What are You Waiting For?

Are you ready to get what you want out of your new fit life?  Well you’re going to have to reach out and take it.

While you shouldn’t aim for every single star in the sky, you should shoot for some.  Ask yourself what you want out of your fitness journey.

List out your priorities and break them down into manageable goals.  Then track your progress for maximum benefit.

So, what path will you take?  Setting goals, and sticking to them, will guarantee any path you choose will be a successful one.

6 thoughts on “Goals: How to Successfully Navigate Your Fitness Journey

  1. I love this advice! Thanks for the different example fitness goals too.

    I find it helps to have a strong Why. When I started running for the first time this year, my Why was simply to use my body again and push my own limits after an illness. Worked a treat!

  2. This is a great article. Getting started is the easy part — it’s being able to follow through to the end that’s a bit tricky! Thanks for posting!

    1. You aren’t lying! I have my struggles, too. Thanks, Carol. Hope you’re doing well! 😊

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