May 29, 2023

Define Your Goals

When taking on any challenge, it’s a good idea to define your goals. You should identify what you want to accomplish and how you will carry out your plan. This is important when making positive change and will help you succeed.

Before starting this program, set short-term and long-term goals. These goals should be





Time Based

For example:
A specific short-term goal may be to start strength training; the long-term goal may be easing the symptoms of arthritis, improving balance, or controlling your weight. This goal is easily measurable: Have you or have you not begun the program? Indeed, this is an attainable goal, as long as your doctor approves, and this goal is certainly relevant to living a long, healthy life. Your goal should be time-based: you should read this book within 5 days, buy the equipment you need, and set your exercise schedule within the next 5 days. Start the program within the following 2 to 3 days.

The goals and time frame are entirely up to you. You may want to focus your long-term goals on improving a specific health condition, such as reducing pain from arthritis, controlling diabetes, increasing bone density to help combat osteoporosis, or increasing muscle mass to help with balance or weight control. Or your goal may be to bowl or play tennis, or perhaps to do all of your own chores, such as cleaning windows or vacuuming. Your success depends on setting goals that are truly important to you—and possessing a strong desire to achieve them.

Goal-Setting Worksheet #1

Identifying Your Short-Term Goals

Identify at least two of three of your own short-term goals and write them on the personal goal- setting worksheet provided. If you have more goals, write them down as well. Remember that each goal should be S-M-A-R-T—specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based. Setting these short-term goals will help motivate you to make the program a regular part of your life.


  1. I will talk to my doctor about starting this program.
  2. I will buy the equipment I need and get ready to exercise within 2 weeks.
  3. I will look at my calendar and schedule 2 or 3 45-minute blocks of time for exercise each week.
  4. I will invite my spouse/friend/family member to join me in these exercises.

Goal-Setting Worksheet #2

Identifying Your Long-Term Goals

Identify at least two or three long-term goals and write them on the personal goal-setting worksheet provided. If you have more goals, write them down as well. Are there activities that you want to do more easily over the long term? Are there things that you haven’t done in some time that you want to try again? Listing these goals will help you stay with the program, see your progress, and enjoy your success. (Don’t forget to use the S-M-A-R-T technique.)


  1. I will do each exercise 2 or 3 times each week. Within 3 months, I will do each exercise with 5 lb. weights.
  2. After 12 weeks of the program, I will take the stairs instead of the elevator.
  3. I will be able to walk to the store or office.
  4. I will do my own vacuuming.
  5. I will play golf.
  6. I will reduce some of the pain and stiffness from arthritis.

Staying Motivated

Consider these factors that motivate people to begin and stick with their exercise program. Then identify which ones motivate you.

  • Pleasure. People often really enjoy strength-training exercises; they find them less taxing than aerobic workouts and love the results.
  • Health and fitness benefits. Strength training increases muscle mass and bone density. It makes you feel strong and energized, alleviates stress and depression, and gives you a better night's sleep. And it can help prevent the onset of certain chronic diseases or ease their symptoms.
  • Improvements in appearance. Lifting weights firms the body, trims fat, and can boost metabolism by as much as 15%, which helps with weight control.
  • Social opportunities. Exercising with friends or family gives you a chance to visit and chat while you work out.
  • Thrills. People who start strength training later in life often find that they are willing and able to try new, exciting activities, such as parasailing, windsurfing, or kayaking.

Celebrating Your Achievements

Making any major lifestyle change can be trying. A great way to motivate yourself to keep with the program is to properly celebrate your achievements. This may be as important as setting goals and visualizing success. When you accomplish one of your short-term or long-term goals, make sure that you reward yourself well!

  1. Buy yourself new workout clothes or shoes.
  2. Make plans with good friends to see a movie or go hiking.
  3. Go on a weekend getaway.
  4. Treat yourself to a new piece of exercise equipment.
  5. Plan a dinner at your favorite restaurant.
  6. Get tickets to your favorite theater production or athletic event.
  7. Pamper yourself with a massage, manicure, or pedicure.
  8. Enroll in a class, such as ballroom dancing, yoga, or pottery making.

Stages of Change

Introducing any major change into our daily lives can be very challenging. Starting an exercise program is like setting off on a journey; it requires a step-by-step approach. When making any major lifestyle changes, most people go through 5 stages, as defined by the transtheoretical model: pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, and maintenance.

Contemplation—Getting Motivated

By reading this information, you have already moved beyond precontemplation, which is the stage in which you’re not yet thinking about strength training. In contemplation, you are intrigued by what you have heard about strength training. Reading about the health benefits of these exercises or hearing about them from a friend or doctor has stimulated your interest in starting the program yourself. At this stage, you work on getting motivated, thinking about your goals, and asking yourself what you want to get out of the program. This is also the time to address possible obstacles and find ways to overcome them.

Preparation—Starting Your Journey

You are ready to take action once you have thought about your motivations and goals for strength training. At this stage, you take steps to prepare for a new exercise program. You set aside the physical space needed to do the exercises and buy any equipment you may need. You look at your schedule to see where strength training might fit in and set specific exercise days and times.

Action—Adopting the Program

At this exciting stage, you are learning the exercises and doing them regularly and consistently, two or three times per week. You are beginning to see the results of your work! Technically, the action stage continues as long as you are engaged in the program. But after about six months of doing the exercises, you will have graduated to the maintenance stage.

Maintenance—Progressing and Staying on Track

This is the stage at which strength training becomes a way of life. When you reach this point, there's a good chance that you find it hard to imagine not doing your exercises. As you progress, you may add new strengthening exercises to your routine and new activities to your life.

For some people, one stage flows easily and naturally into the next within a relatively short period of time and with few major problems. But many of us get hung up at one stage or another. Keep in mind that it often takes several attempts to change one's way of life. Stay with it—you'll find that the effort pays off in ways you never imagined!

Making Change

It can be difficult to make a change in your daily routine. Still not sure how to begin? Check out the Getting Started section for a user-friendly guide to beginning or increasing physical activity. Also visit Making Physical Activity Part of Your Life for tips on how to be more active every day.