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How to set exercise goals and achieve them with Mollie Millington

How to set exercise goals and achieve them with Mollie Millington
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Having the initial motivation to get out and exercise is one part of a fitness plan - staying on track through structure and organisation is something else. Sometimes setting a manageable plan for your fitness goals can be the difference between success and failure for your new routine.

We recently met with Mollie Millington: a personal trainer who encourages her clients to stick to their fitness goals using the S.M.A.R.T. method. SMART stands for the five steps needed to break down your goals into achievable and realistic sections: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time bound. Whether you want to run a 5k, start a new healthy eating routine, set out a new exercise plan or try a new sport, the SMART method can help you to achieve it through planning and process.

boudavida blog goal planner with pencil

Mollie Millington

How many times a day do you say “I wish...” or “I want…”? You might think some things are out of reach but with a little bit of focus, organisation and planning, you can achieve your dreams. If something seems too big, you just need to break it down into smaller chunks. I use a method called SMART goal setting which can help you reach your goals.

What it is
‘SMART’ stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and time bound. By declaring a goal that meets these criteria, you will have a black and white definition of what you need to do and whether you have achieved it.

Specific - Be very clear in what you need to do. Instead of 'go to the gym' set a required length of time and even a specific activity. An example would be ‘go to the gym for 20 minutes for circuit training’.
Measurable - There needs to be a way to monitor your progress. In the above example, you have a time criteria and could add in two days a week.
Achievable - Although stepping outside your comfort zone is good and where you will probably see growth, don't look too far beyond reality. For example, you might not qualify for the Olympics at the age of 50 or become Prime Minister without any political experience. If you have kids but no child care after you get home from work, setting a goal of running outside for 2 hours five nights a week is probably not achievable.
Relevant - Make you goal something that you want. Don’t make something your partner wants but you aren’t necessarily motivated to do. Don’t set a goal to run every day if you hate running.
Time bound- Set a deadline for when you need to achieve your goal by. It might be eight weeks, a race you have signed up for, or a family holiday.

Where to start
Make a list of all the things you want. They don't have to be fitness related either. They could have to do with nurturing relationships, finances, work, travel, or family. If you have never set goals before, it might seem a bit strange to write these down on paper. But just go for it! You might see a larger area to focus on when you review the list all at once. Then choose 1-3 goals to start with, depending on how big they are (drinking an extra glass of water a day vs attending a yoga class every day at 5am). I usually tell my clients to stick to a maximum of 3 goals at a time. For example, you don't want to quit smoking, give up meat, and cut back on coffee all at the same time. You don't need to wait until the first of January or a Monday to start tracking your progress either. You can start right now.

Let’s work through an example:
Your goal might be to ‘Get fit.’ How do you define fit, though? Do you want to run a 5k? Do a press-up? Have a six pack? Or do you just want to go to the gym?

Make it specific.
I will go to the gym.
Add in measurable.
I will go to the gym for 30 minutes every day.
Is it relevant?
I will go to the gym for 30 minutes every day and lift weights so I build muscle definition.
How achievable is it?
It is really hard to do anything seven days a week, so give yourself some leeway!
I will go to the gym for 30 minutes four times a week and lift weights so I build muscle definition.
Set a deadline.
I will go to the gym for 30 minutes four times a week and lift weights so I build muscle definition until my holiday in September.

If you need any help getting your goals SMART, check out my worksheet here or send me an email at

boudavida blog goal planner image

Read more on how to set goals for fitness on Mollie's website:

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