How to set goals for 2021

We’re continuing with our get fit theme this week with a quick look at a remarkably simple, but highly effective method that we can all use to ensure that our goals are optimal for where we want to go – it’s as simple as that, lets jump in!


Goal setting

For many of us, goal setting is a major aspect of our lives – be it at work, school or even just our personal time, we often measure ourselves and our achievements against targets we create. Even if you work in the kind of job where someone else sets your major goals – you’re still busy setting your own targets each day to move towards that overall goal. At Complete Chiropractic, goal setting is a huge part of what we do – we start out by creating a target at an initial consultation by identifying what matters to you, and how we can best get there. We then measure the success of our treatment against these goals (that’s what those periodic assessments are for!) so it’s incredibly important to get those initial goals right.

Well thought through and organised goals are critical to overall success – on the other hand poor goal setting can doom you to failure before you even start. Lots of us find this out around this time each year – we set poor goals, take a few action steps, and then never seem to accomplish very much. Often the problem isn’t a lack of motivation… it’s just that the goals were never achievable to start with.

Smart health goals make it easier for you to clarify your thoughts, focus your efforts, use your time to your advantage, and increase your chances of not only achieving but surpassing your expectations!


No goal is unrealistic, I can achieve anything!

Fantastic! … but also kind of wrong. While we really do believe that you can achieve almost anything (No matter how hard I flap my arms, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to fly…) there’s so much more to goal setting than simply saying “I want to go here”. Lets take a common an perfectly reasonable target – “I’d like to lose weight” – super, good choice, however, that’s only step one. While this is definitely a positive intent, it isn’t yet an actionable goal. How much weight do you want to lose, what’s enough, what isn’t enough  – and by when do you want to do it? Is that goal actually attainable, and for that matter, does it actually move you forward? How will you judge success, and when does the goal end? These are all important questions.

Perhaps really you’d like to be confident to head down to the beach (remember when that was a thing?)  – If you’re overweight, shedding a few pounds could make sense, but if you’re already at a healthy weight you might actually be better off trying to build some muscle. Perhaps you’re sick and tired of neck pain so you resolve to buy an expensive gizmo designed to reduce the pain – the problem is it’s likely your posture which is causing the pain, so far better to fix that!

Similarly, you might like to be able to run the marathon (remember when that was a thing?) and that’s something you can almost certainly do – but can you do it by tomorrow? No chance – by the end of the month? No chance. It’s far better to have an achievable target like being able to run it by the end of the year – this doesn’t just give you space to meet the goal – it also allows you the freedom to plan for success.


How to set good goals

So, how can we set better goals – I use a simple but incredibly simply system called SMART targets, what’s a smart target, its one which is:

  • Specific: Make your goals specific for more effective planning.
  • Measurable: define how you are making progress and ensure that you have the means to check progress.
  • Attainable: make them reasonable to accomplish – you can always re-run a goal. Two shorter goals are often more motivating that one long one.
  • Relevant: your goals should align with your values and broader desires.
  • Time-Based: set a date of completion.[1]


That’s it – seems simple, however you’ll find that by working through each of these steps you will create a target which you have a much better chance of reaching. Critically however, you will also be able to identify when you don’t reach a target, and why that was. It’s much easier to look back at a goal which didn’t come off an adjust the just the aspects of the plan which didn’t work out. Perhaps you wanted to lose 10 pounds, but only lost 8 – we’ll first of all you did successfully lose weight, but perhaps your timescale was a little to short, or the goal was not quite attainable. Perhaps you needed a little more discipline, or a bit of a greater calorie deficit, the point is that you immediately have aspects of your plan which you can tweak and change to optimise for success – rather than just saying “well, it didn’t work”.

Using smart goals, we can move from our original idea of “I’d like to lose weight” to something like – I’m aiming to lose 8 pounds, which I can monitor using my home scales, over the next 8 weeks. That means I need to lose one pound a week, or about 500 calories a day. I’ll add an hour of walking and cut chocolates and fizzy drinks from my diet in order to do this.


Give it a try!

I really encourage you to give SMART targets a go, if you haven’t already – and if this sounds like a good way to tackle things to you, keep in mind it’s the way we do everything at Complete Chiropractic. If pain is part of your problem, and you need some SMART targets to eliminate it, why not book a consultation or check up and we’ll help you get started!





[1] Smart Goals: How to Make Your Goals Achievable. MindTools. 2020.


Blog by / January 15, 2021 / Blog

Dr. Paul Irvine is a doctor of chiropractic who graduated in 1994 with a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of NSW and in 1996, attained his Master of Chiropractic degree from Macquarie University in Australia. He practised in North Sydney for 5 years before he left Australia to travel and practise in the UK. He joined Complete Chiropractic in 2003 (est 1999) and took over the clinic in 2007