Monday Motivation – Short Term vs Long Term Goal Setting

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When people first start working out, it’s usually with a short term goal in mind. Maybe they want to run a race, or lose 20 pounds, or fit into a specific pair of jeans. There is usually an end game. And that can be super helpful and motivating in that moment. But what happens after that short term goal is attained? OR what if it is never attained? What if the race is cancelled or the jeans just never fit quite right? How do you continue to motivate yourself when those goals will never be reached?

When I first started working out in high school, my only goal was to be skinny. And when I didn’t see what I thought was skinny day after day, it made it really hard to stick with working out. I would go in every day thinking that this day would finally be the day that changed my body forever, then the next morning I would wake up looking the same and be devastated. This made sticking with working out super challenging. Since I was only concentrating on the short term, it felt like nothing I did truly worked.

Fast forward to the next stage of my life – CrossFit. This was another time in my life that I only cared about the short term. I cared about the number on the barbell, the number of pull ups I could get, and the next competition I could get into. I wanted to make it to the CrossFit Games and that was the only thing that mattered to me in the moment. I cared about the short term and I would do anything to get there, even putting my health in jeopardy along the way. Then once CrossFit competitions weren’t on my radar anymore, I felt lost once again. That short term goal was gone and I felt like I had nothing to work towards.

Over the years I’ve worked with hundreds of people, both in and out of the gym. And something I see more often than not is someone caring too much about the short term goals they have in their head. They think about the 30 day challenge or fitting into a wedding dress, but once that day comes, all is forgotten. After that, their diet is thrown out the window or they stop going to the gym. They let the short term goal become their ONLY goal, which makes consistency quite hard in the long run.

For me, it wasn’t until the last year or so that I stopped concentrating on the short term and started setting long term goals. And once I did this, I was able to find a much more stable day-to-day. No longer was I worried about a number, on a scale or in the gym, because I was now thinking about how I would feel in 10 years. Even 20 years. I started going to the gym with two different goals in mind, a short term and a long term. Right now my short term is to create stronger and more defined glutes, but my long term goal is to simply become more comfortable in my skin. That short term goal may help with that, but I know there is WAY more that will go into my long term goal, and those are things I have to work on daily, probably for as long as I live.

Creating a mixture of short term goals and long term goals is what is going to help you stay motivated year to year. If you want to fit into some pair of jeans you wore years and years ago, good on ya. Make it happen. But while you’re working towards that short term goal, try to think about why it is so important to you. Do those jeans represent a happier time in your life? If so, what was it about that time in your life that made you so happy? Was it because you were more comfortable in your skin at that time and because of that, you went out with your friends more often? And will fitting into those jeans create that feeling for you once again? Or is your long term goal simply to be in a happier place in your life? These questions go way deeper than surface level but those questions will help you create a healthier and happier tomorrow, next year, and next 10 years. When you can create both short term and long term goals, you’ll be able to find motivation day after day.

Do a little homework for yourself today – Decide what your short term goals are then look at your long term goals. Remember that fitting into a specific pair of jeans may give you short term happiness, but what is going to keep you happy long after your jeans fit…or what happens when they don’t fit? Thinking through all this will hopefully help you continue on a healthy path long term and keep you motivated day in and day out.

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Oh, Hi! I’m Juli.

I’m a food hoarder. And a really bad dancer. If you don’t know me well, you will probably not understand my humor. Therefore, I apologize ahead of time. Thanks for listening to my ramblings of my ever-changing life and trusting my kitchen mishaps. Your trust in me is appreciated.

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6 thoughts on “Monday Motivation – Short Term vs Long Term Goal Setting”

  1. Great post! This is exactly what I am trying to do now, and the weight loss is slow… and I wish it was faster… but I have changed the reason for wanting to lose weight. I want to feel lighter and get stronger and the weight is in the way. So each time I think about tanking my short term goal, I remember that i want to feel lighter and be stronger and it is really helpful to keep me focused on the long term. Thanks for your awesome insight 🙂

  2. Thank you for this post! This is something that I am working on now. I recently lost 23 pounds (at a glacial pace) over the last few months and I’ve been asking myself, what’s next? I feel like I need to work on figuring it out and honestly it might just be…. I want to be able to run 3 miles, eat food I love that’s healthy, and feel good.

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