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Written by: Aaron Whitten

One of the key traits of successful people is goal setting. Maybe the best example is the great Arnold Schwarzenegger. At age 10 he mapped out the key goals he wanted to achieve for the rest of his life including becoming a film star and politician. Concrete visualization of those goals plus diehard tenacity allowed him to become one of the most amazing success stories in America. Okay, so we all have heard of the importance of having goals but rarely do you hear about how to do so effectively. And this is the reason why many people fail to achieve their goals: they are either poorly chosen or unrealistic for their particular situation. Observing a few key points can help to avoid these failures.

First, be true to yourself when setting goals. By this I mean you should be aware of your own strengths and weaknesses from a genetic standpoint. For instance, if you are a small, light boned person it may not be a good idea to plan to be the largest sumo wrestler ever. Instead you should work within your strengths. The same person may not be suited for heavyweight wrestling but has the capacity to be a tremendous marathoner. We idolize our sports heroes who have excelled within their arena but should also recognize the fact that most are highly gifted at their endeavor of choice. However for some people this will never matter. Some folks are so passionate about their goal that they will allow no amount of reality to change it. If you are truly one of these very few individuals then I say go for it, with one caveat: Find your niche within your goal. If you are that same small boned person and insist on being a wrestler, perhaps you should focus on being the best within your particular class or concentrate on perfecting a signature move that allows you to be competitive at a lighter weight. Again, work with your genetics as much as possible rather than trying to rewrite nature.

Secondly, establish a realistic timeline. Look where you are currently versus where you want to be and determine a reasonable degree of progression between the two. Weight loss is a great example. If you want to cut half your bodyweight and become a model you have to realize that anything over about a kilogram of fat lost weekly will result in sagging skin and wrinkles. Or if you want to gain 20 kilograms of muscle you should understand that human physiology rarely allows for more than 3 or 4 kilograms of lean mass gained yearly, even with anabolic agents. Any faster and you risk getting fat. Once again we are working with our bodies to reach our goals rather than attempting to force it to succumb to our wishes.

Lastly, develop a support structure. You will need two things: accountability and assistance. Accountability consists of letting others know of your goal and timeline and asking them to hold you to it, especially when you want to quit. Assistance is provided by those who believe in you and want you to succeed. These are the people who will be there when you fall off the wagon and hoist you right back up. You will need these support structures throughout the process and to celebrate with you after you achieve your goal.

This year do not quickly or randomly select a goal for your health and fitness. Take some time to map out a clear plan and refine your vision. Taking the time to do so will greatly increase your chances of success in achieving this goal and the next. Treat your goal seriously and realize that you alone are in control of your success.