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How to Reach Your Goals

Experts describe strategies for setting goals -- and making sure you achieve them.
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WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

We all have goals. What are yours? To lose 20 pounds? Get in shape? Buy a new house? Make more money? Having a goal is the easy part. Reaching it? Well, that's something else entirely. If you're frustrated because you feel like you keep coming up short when it comes to realizing your dreams, maybe it's time to try a different approach.

When setting a goal, ask yourself first of all if your goals are realistic and if you are really ready to make the changes in your life necessary to reach those goals.

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"Most people don't take into consideration whether they're ready to do what it takes to achieve their goals," says Steven Rosenberg, PhD. Rosenberg is a behavior therapist, the team psychotherapist for the Philadelphia Flyers hockey team, and author of I Hope the Hell I WIN! Turning Hope into Reality…How Winners Win! If you're going through a stressful time at work, for example, this may not be the best time to start a weight loss program; maybe you'd do better to wait a few months and start on, say, your birthday.

Be realistic as well, says Rosenberg. You can't lose 40 pounds in two weeks, or even a month. Set an achievable objective, such as 1 to 2 pounds a week; by the end of the year, you will have lost the 40 pounds.

Be Committed

"Goals that get reached are those that are firm, well-defined, and to which the individual is truly and completely committed," says Susan Schachterle, director of the Denver-based Ahimsa Group, which provides consulting and coaching services to individuals and organizations worldwide. "Without that commitment, trying to reach goals is like grabbing Jell-O -- you think maybe you have it, but there's really nothing to hang on to."

Schachterle suggests that you check your commitment. Ask yourself why you want to achieve that particular goal. What will that do for you? Why is it important? What will your life be like when you have reached it? How will achieving your goal change things for you?

"If you're having trouble making a strong commitment," says Schachterle, "make sure it's the right goal and the right time for you."

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