Your goals need to be precise. “I want to be in better shape” is extremely ambiguous. A specific goal would be, “I want to drop 15 pounds, lose 2 inches off my waistline, or put on 10 pounds of muscle.”
A measurable goal is one that leaves no room for interpretation to whether or not you’ve achieved it. Pounds, inches, run times, and body fat percentages are all easily measurable goals. If you get on the scale and you weigh 15 pounds less than you did at the start, then there is zero question about your success. On the other hand, if your goal was to “get fit” how are you supposed to know when you’ve succeeded?
It’s great to set your standards high, just make sure you are realistic. There is nothing worse than being motivated with a positive attitude only to have your dreams crushed by failing to meet your goal. Setting a goal to lose 30 pounds in 30 days is not only unrealistic it’s unhealthy. Likewise, a fitness oriented goal like running a marathon in 2 months is just asking for bad news. Set yourself up for success by choosing a goal that is not impossible, 1-2 pounds a week for weight loss is a good guideline for achieving long-term success.
This is where you get to be selfish. The goals you set should be your own. They should matter to you and no one else. The more important the goal is to you, the more motivation you will have to continue working hard and adhere to the routine over the long-haul.
Putting a time frame on your goal gives you a finish line to strive for. When there is an end in sight (even if it’s a long way off) you know you have to work to meet that deadline. If you were to leave this open ended, you may never get off the couch. Having a countdown towards a specific date motivates you to get it done!