6 Ways to Make Goals Last

School Age

Many of us set big goals to get healthy. But soon enough, most of us veer off course from our plans.

Often our goals are simply too big—“I’ll exercise every day.” Some are too restrictive—“No more sugar for me.” And others are so long-term we don’t feel any immediate success—“I’m going to lose 50 pounds!”

Try a short-term goal and a plan to succeed to help you keep your goals. We’ve got tips to help your whole family set and achieve your goals.


Make it about habits, not weight

Encourage your kids to make their goals about creating healthier and happier lives—not about losing weight. In fact, it’s important not to set a weight-loss goal for children. Having an action plan for healthy habits is a road map for success that helps remind kids we have control over our actions.


Try a short-term plan for likely success

Big goals are important—but not if they are too hard to measure and too hard to reach. Instead, come up with a short-term plan for action and agree to work hard every step of the way to get there. Reaching a goal that’s within sight makes for a “quick win” that boosts confidence and motivation.

Example: Try a one-week plan in just one area of the Strong4Life healthy habits, such as adding more veggies and fruits to your plate. Over the weekend, talk about what worked, what didn’t and what you want to try the following week.


To succeed, be specific

The more details you write down in your family’s action plan, the better you’ll be able to measure how well you’re doing. And the more likely you’ll be to actually work toward completing each goal.

Try making a chart of what you will do, how often you will do it and how long you will keep trying.

Example: The goal to “be more active” is hard to track. Try this: “I will ride my bike after school three days this week.” So, “I will drink more water” becomes “I will drink water with dinner every weeknight.”


Build slowly, leave room for surprises

Aim to stay faithful to your goals, but understand that things come up and action plans get interrupted. Birthday parties, busy work nights and big surprises—each might call for some wiggle room. You can always add on to your action plan. And you can always build on past successes.

Example: Instead of saying, “I will never drink soda again,” try saying, “This week, I will commit to three days with no sugary drinks.” If you don’t reach your goal, try again. Once you’ve reached that goal, add another day the following week.


Cooperate without competing

Reaching a goal is a lot more fun when you support each other as a family. Instead of competing about who had the healthiest breakfast, who ran fastest or who drank the most water, encourage each other to work together and put your best habits forward!

Example: If your family is working to change what’s on your dinner plates, visit the farmers market together and let everyone choose at least one fruit or veggie. Trying to spend less time looking at screens? Vote on an outdoor activity you can all do as a family.


Celebrate success with a long-term goal

Family treats are fine from time to time, but not as a reward or motivation to build healthy habits. Encourage kids to follow healthy habits for more important reasons—to grow stronger, feel better and do well in school—and not because they might get an extra dessert.

Once your child begins to experience the joy of small successes, reach toward a bigger goal that will help your child understand why healthy habits are so important.

Example: Ask your child what they would like to do now that they’re feeling stronger and more energetic. Maybe join a sports team or learn an instrument? Climb Stone Mountain or start saving for a new bike? Goal setting goes beyond just healthy habits and can become a big part of every child’s life as they mature.

You can use this handout from Strong4Life to help set new healthy habit goals for your family.

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