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We need goals to motivate us. Correct?

Having goals and achieving them builds confidence. Correct?

Is there a down side to goals that are targets?

For the exercise-novice, yes there could be. Over the past two decades I have observed both the positives and negatives of goals that are targets.

Made it. The chase is over. Victorious.

At our most primitive roots we carry a preselected wiring that is in conflict with achieving a hard sought after goal and then… continuing to exercise. This primitive wiring, the driver to chase down the goal, was a necessary part in our survival in hunting & gathering cultures. That positive side of this wiring is it drives you.

Then, what happens when you caught your goal. Now what? In a primitive hunting and gathering mindset, when you capture the big enchilada, you stop. You feast. You rest. Done. Those crazies in the primitive tribe continuing to run around, well, in times of scarcity that was genetically preselected out. 

So the way we evolved we inherently struggle with that primitive wiring: Time to rest. The chase is over.

Given that goal that is accomplished results in a “I did it” or “I made it” mindset. That outcome, sharing an attitude similar to athletes, to our ancestors, to others, “what is life “after” achieving the goal?” I got the trophy. Finished.

Finished?? For the exercise initiate this is disastrous.

My solution: Limit targets. Avoid establishing end-goals. Unless they are aspirations like, “I want to remain healthiest the last heartbeat through physical activity”. Otherwise you will face the attitude of the feast and rest mentality.

Too Big of a Bite?

Goals, to be valid motivators for the average goal-setter need to possess a number of characteristics to optimize their utility.  Particular value or loss there of is if the goal is too lavish, that it, is either unlikely to be achieved or it will take a very long time in the pursuit of achieving it. Too big, too long to accomplish, that goal is a death to commitments for the average Jo.

Goals need to be “seen” as attainable. If a goal is too far, then organize more easily reachable goals that lead to that outcome. (But refer to my first point, the outcome must still be a step and not a target that evolves into becoming the end-target).

Solution: No goal should be so large it chokes most who take a bite into it. Too large of a goal will discourage. Avoid the oversized goal, it becomes an insurmountable wall that will be your client’s demise.


1.     Avoid end-goals or hard targets. All goals should be a transition to the next phase, a continuum.

2.     Small bite size goals work best. Where there is no avoiding a big goal, build in small incremental steps.

3.     All targets should fit into an overall plan of establishing healthy daily living. This is the ultimate target your client needs to keep chasing. 

I welcome your comments.