7 Steps to Achieving Your Big Goals

Those big, ambitious dreams can seem scary - don't get overwhelmed! Follow these 7 steps to create a schedule for success.

When I set goals, I go big. I’m only happy when I’m aiming higher than I ever have in the past, always trying to do something outlandish. It might be common among Stepbetters and Dietbetters: we are all trying to push our fitness and health goals forward so much that we’re willing to put money on it!

Eventually, though, we need to go from the pie-in-the-sky plan down to the “What exactly am I going to do right now?”—and the best way I’ve found to do this is to make a schedule. In my case, my big goal is a half marathon: 13.1 long, lonely miles being run through the heart of the big city near where I live.

I have run 3 miles before, and 6 miles before… maybe 3 or 4 times total? But 13.1 is a lot longer. My body is going to go through things I’ve never dreamed of in those long hours!

But I know that by looking at how much time I have and breaking my goal down, I can make each step of the journey manageable. The steps below are specific to my half marathon goal, but you can tweak them to work with whatever big picture goals you have for yourself!

1. Define Success 

Figure out when you want to be where – in my case, on May 7th I want to be capable of a slow jog for 13.1 miles. Whether your goal is around weight lifting, succeeding in a sport, or running much crazier distances than a half-marathon, you can always find a way to measure what success will look like and when you want to achieve it.

2. Look for Models

I found a really helpful 3-month couch-to-half-marathon schedule and worked from that to start. This is one example, but there are many, and it’s worth it to see what the variation is.

3. Make Room for Flexibility 

I knew that in my training, it was going to be hard to keep to my schedule every day, so I set my goals in terms of weekly miles; this way, if I cannot go to the gym for two days in a row, I don’t have to throw that week out as a failure, but rather up my mileage or amount of runs for the rest of the week. Life has a tendency of getting in the way, so it’s good to have a backup plan.

4. Start Early

Try to start working toward your goal 2-4 weeks earlier than you think you need, just in case you overestimated how in-shape you are. I tried my schedule out a few weeks before I really needed to get started to see if I could reasonably fit in all the running I was aiming to do. By ramping up slowly over more time, I was able to adjust the schedule without giving up on the end goal.

5. Track Successes, Even Little Ones

Just like non-scale victories are important, non-race-day victories are too! Every week when I fit 12 miles’ worth of running into my days, I get a little jolt of happiness that reminds me that I can do this.

Make it WayBetter

What is something you can start working toward, fitness or otherwise? What incremental scheduling can you do to make the process have small victories along the way?