5 Steps to Effective Weight Loss Goal Setting

To quote Zig Ziegler, if you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time!

Many dieters fail to make meaningful progress simply because they have no goals or targets.

They say they want to lose weight but don’t know how much or by when.

Dieting without a goal is like going on a journey without a map; if you reach your destination it’ll be more luck than judgement and you’ll probably waste a lot of time going in the wrong direction too.

Setting goals gives you focus and direction and also provides a yardstick by which to measure your progress.

In short, if you are serious about losing weight, you need to set a goal.

The best goals are SMART which stands for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Recorded
  • Time-bound

Use the following five step process for setting your own SMART weight loss goals.


So you want to lose weight; excellent!

But how much do you want or need to lose?

Don’t lie to yourself here; if you are significantly overweight, you need to lose more than a “few pounds.”

Be specific but also be honest about how much weight you need to lose.

Also, consider other ways of measuring weight loss.

For example, you might decide to work toward a specific waist measurement or body fat percentage.

Relying solely on weight doesn’t take into account that you might gain muscle as you lose fat which means your weight might not fall as much as you hoped.

Whichever way you do it, pick a specific target to aim for and then develop a diet and exercise plan to get you there.


Put a numerical value to your target and make sure that you can measure it to assess your progress.

Make sure you measure your progress regularly to make sure your diet and exercise program are working and also help keep you motivated.

Measure your progress every few days to identify trends.

Some experts warn against weighing yourself too frequently because, they say, your weight can fluctuate from one day to the next.

In fact, that’s the exact reason you should weigh yourself every day or two!

Frequent weigh-ins allow you to spot trends and mean that the occasional fluctuation can often be ignored.

If you only weigh yourself once a week, it only takes one weight fluctuation to cast a shadow over your progress.

If, however, you weigh yourself daily, that one fluctuation means little when compared to a trend.


Can you really reach your goal?

Do you have all the resources you need?

Are there barriers that you’ll have to overcome that might interfere with your progress?

Do you have the willpower and commitment necessary to see it through?

Is the time frame (discussed later) realistic?

While you could lose five pounds in a week, this degree of rapid weight loss is seldom sustainable or even healthy so make sure you set yourself a realistic target based on losing something more conservative – say 1-2 pounds per week.

In business, it is always better to under promise and then over deliver so make sure you adopt the same mindset when considering the achievability of your goals.


Once you have decided upon your goals and confirmed that they are measurable and achievable, you should record them for prosperity.

Writing down your goal gives it weight and gravity by making it real; it’s no longer just in your head but out in the world.

Give your goal even more gravity by telling your friends about it, publishing it on your Facebook page or personal blog or simply sticking a printed version of your goal to your fridge.

Anytime you feel your motivation starting to slip, revisit your goal to remind yourself of what you are trying to achieve.

Compare your current status to your original goal and enjoy the fact you have made progress.

If progress is slow, use this revelation as a kick in the pants to get yourself back on track.

Recording your goal makes it a living, breathing thing so you are much less likely to abandon it.


Adding a cutoff date for reaching your goal adds a much-needed element of urgency.

Make the deadline realistic but close enough to put you under a little bit of pressure.

Open-ended goals are seldom reached; this is an irrefutable fact.

However, deadlines mean you cannot afford to say things like “it’s okay, I’ll start again on Monday” – the clock is ticking!

Make sure you allow enough time to reach your goal safely – no starvation diets please – but also don’t give yourself so much time that you lose interest along the way.

You know if your time frame is right if you wake up every day knowing that you have to stick to your plan to make progress and reach your target on time.

A Few Other Rules For Goal Setting…

  • Set your own goals – don’t let other people do it for you. You need to “own” the goal and you can’t do that if someone else sets your goal for you. 
  • Make sure you will enjoy the process – if the path to your goal will make you miserable, you are probably going to fail along the way. You need to enjoy the process and not just the outcome. 
  • Break big goals into smaller goals – this helps to help keep you focused and ensure that you won’t lose interest in something that seems a very long way off. For example, if you need to lose 100 lbs. think about five 20 lbs. goals instead. That way you’ll enjoy several successful stepping stones along the way to reaching your main goal. 
  • When you reach your goal, set another one – don’t rest on your laurels once you reach your goal; set another goal even if it’s maintaining your new weight or something completely different such as a fitness-related goal. Goal setting is a powerful motivational tool that can keep you living a healthy lifestyle indefinitely.


Whether you are a captain of industry, the captain of a ship, the captain of the football team or the captain of your diet and weight loss journey, SMART goals significantly increase your chances of success.

Take a few minutes to create your own SMART weight loss goals so that you too can enjoy the benefits of this awesome motivational tool.