Going into the New Year everybody does it. Everyone wants to set and meet goals. Some goals they have postponed for years due to a myriad of excuses or maybe their goals this year are new aspirations they have never thought of before. The majority of us tend to focus on health-related goals but other areas you might want to address are relational, business, spiritual, or household related. Whatever it is, every goal needs to be TOUGH.

T stands for TOUGH. Many people are of the belief that goals should be achievable and realistic but what achievable and realistic goal ever landed anyone on the cover of Forbes or Sports Illustrated? There is something to be said to the person that is 200 pounds wanting to lose 100 pounds in six months BUT why not aim high and still achieve beyond that mediocre goal of 20 pounds? Go ahead and dream big—just keep reading the rest of the acronym so you’re prepared to rise to the challenge.

O stands for OBJECTIVE. So you have made your dream list. Now let’s get serious. Every outcome requires steps to achieve it and an objective mindset to create that plan. What skills do you need to develop in order to achieve your goal? What steps do you need to accomplish to achieve your greater goal? Being objective and creating sub-goals out of your primary goals prevents you from getting distracted by feelings of defeat or exhaustion. You can see the next step on the horizon instead of the overwhelming aspirations that taunt you at the end.

U stands for UNDERSTAND. What concepts do you need to research? What do you need to learn in that area so that you are prepared for the challenges that you face? For instance, if your goal is fitness related, do you know how much you need to exercise to burn off that ice cream sundae? Or do you know what the World Record for the 2-mile is? Because if you don’t, you might think it is realistic for you to run two miles in eight minutes or climb two flights of stairs to burn off that sundae. A good understanding of your goal and what it takes to get there prepares you for the plateaus in progress or the setbacks that discourage so many goal-setters.

G stands for GRAPHIC. Sometimes you need to see it to believe it. Find ways to encourage yourself toward your goals and constantly remind yourself of your dreams. Whether it is posting pictures of someone finishing the race you aspire to run or that Forbes cover you dream of being on. If you have that competitive spirit, create a group among your colleagues or friends so that you can compare weekly workout plans and celebrate your successes. There are a myriad of fitness trackers that you can use to motivate yourself and even compare daily outcomes with friends and family.

H stands for HAPPY. Your goals and your plan to meet them should always make you happy. So find ways to make happiness part of the process. It sounds cheesy but if it makes you happy you will be more likely to do it. Get people involved that make you excited about your goals. Find ways to reward your accomplishments. When I was training for a half marathon I ran with my friend and roommate and rewarded myself with a workout top or new headband with each mile I tacked on toward my goal. I got to spend great time with a great friend and my rewards further motivated me toward my goal.

I hope as you set your goals for the coming year you take more time to examine these steps. If your goals are TOUGH we think you’ll be more likely to reach them.

Dr. Kristen A. Lattimore, PT, DPT, CSCS, CMTPT

Licensed Doctor of Physical Therapy, Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, Certified Myofascial Trigger Point Therapist

Dr. Lattimore has experience as an athlete and coach on the speed and jumping side of Track and Field. She is passionate about integrating her knowledge and experience with fast and powerful exercise into the practice of physical therapy. She also enjoys working with patients whose concerns and complaints have been overlooked and perpetually deferred to the next medial professional. 

Kristen continues to challenge herself with varied exercise, including interval running, weight lifting, yoga, and Pilates. She is passionate about making her patients their best selves and adding power and intensity back into physical therapy. She can be reached at [email protected].

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