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The better way to set goals

When it comes to your next fitness venture, it's good to be a little entrepreneurial.

In business, part of the planning process for a new venture involves creating a feasibility report. In it, you take stock of your resources on-hand, study the environment you're entering into, outline what you stand to gain, determine the window of time it'll take to achieve and more in order to ensure viability. When you embark on a new fitness goal, you should do the same thing.

“One of the most important things is to make your goal actually achievable for you with your specific life,” says Damon Bayles, Psy.D., a licensed clinical psychologist in New York City. “It’s only once you figure out what is realistic that you can come up with a goal that’s reachable.”

The goal can be anything from completing an Ironman to doing a few consecutive pull-ups. You'll want to audit things like your current fitness level, how many more hours you have to devote to working out over your current time expenditure, who makes up your support system (spouse, co-workers, etc.) and demands on your time and attention.

This process sounds a little wonky and that it risks deflating some of the excitement of going for a goal; on the contrary, it ups the odds that you'll achieve it.

“There is often a disconnect between what you want to achieve and your real-life demands,” says Andrew Schaeffer, a New York City-based Tier 3+ Equinox trainer. “Someone may want to get six pack abs in six weeks, but doesn’t realize how many hours of work it will take to make that happen. That’s why it’s important to set better goals in the first place.”

If, in your audit, you find that your goal's a little outsized, you can consider scaling back slightly (half-Ironman instead of full; one strict pull-up), or give yourself more time to to achieve it (moving the race/pull-up back a few months).

“There’s so much emphasis these days on overnight physical transformation, but you can still transform with two hours of training a week—it just might take a little longer to reach the finish line,” Schaeffer reflects. “Instead of dropping off halfway through, it's better to be realistic at the beginning.”