Knowing how to set effective weight loss and fitness goals could be the difference between the success and failure of your exercise program. A big part of what I do as a personal trainer is set goals for my clients. This requires time, thought and planning but if done correctly can significantly increase the chances of making goals possible. Here are 6 steps to help you set and achieve your weight loss and fitness goals.

1. Set Specific Targets

Your weight loss and fitness goals must be specific. A specific goal sets a definite target to aim for. To 'lose 10kg' is a specific goal, to just 'lose weight' is not. To 'run 10km in 45min' is a specific goal, to just 'improve your running' is not. You get the idea...

2. Determine a Deadline

Set a deadline that you will achieve your weight loss and fitness goals by. Introducing a time frame for your goal helps to identify where your progress needs to be along the way in order for you to be successful at the end. A time limit acts as an effective motivator, if you can't commit to a deadline you won't be motivated enough to achieve your goals. 'Lose 10kg in 10 weeks' and 'run 10km in 45min in 3 months time' are examples of specific goals with a time frame.

3. Be Realistic

Don't get too carried away in the excitement of setting new goals. Goals that are unachievable will only discourage you when you are unable to reach them. Anticipate possible set backs and consider known barriers to success and adjust targets and/or deadlines accordingly. Goals should be challenging but they need to be achievable.

4. Develop strategies

Strategies are your action plan - what's required to get the job done. There is no point setting goals without a clear idea of how you will achieve them, you need a plan of attack. Develop 1-3 strategies for each goal that if implemented will result in guaranteed success. 'Weight train for 30min twice each week for 10 weeks' and 'run for 60min continuously once per week for 3 months' are examples of strategies.

5. Implement a Means to Measure

Implement a system that can reliably measure your progress en route to achieving your goal. Measure progress at regular intervals (1-4 weeks) so you can identify both successes and failures. Failures may indicate need for a change in strategies and successes help maintain motivation, either way you need to know about both and you won't if you don't measure progress. 'Weighing in every 2 weeks for 10 weeks' and 'running a 10km time trial once each month for 3 months' are examples of a measuring system.

6. Achieve!

Set a specific target - check! Determine a deadline - check! Ensure it's realistic - check! Develop strategies - check! Implement a measuring system - check! You're ready to achieve your goals. All that's required now is for 'YOU to actually DO'. Go and put your strategies into practice.