How to Set Achievable Diabetes Exercise Goals

Find your positive motivation and learn how to set goals.

Are you looking for some help motivating yourself to exercise? Maybe you need help being positive or creating the right mindset to succeed in your fitness goals, which can also be applied to other goals you may have.

If you are looking for actionable steps to help motivate and create a positive experience with fitness or other areas of your life, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, you will learn actionable steps you can take to help increase your likelihood of success in achieving important goals you have set for yourself.

We will discuss the importance of setting goals, how to give your goals a sense of direction and accountability, the importance of both long-term and short-term goals and the relationship they have with each other, how to create an action plan, tips to help create a positive mindset, and tips on things you can do to help increase the likelihood of achieving your goals.

Always discuss exercise with your doctor BEFORE starting any kind of exercise program. This is especially important if you are on medications. Full disclaimer here.

Importance of Goal Setting

It is important to evaluate your current status by noting your strengths and weaknesses. Celebrating and acknowledging your strengths and accomplishments can improve both your confidence and production. Likewise, it is important to note and address any weaknesses or areas of growth you may need to consider to help you become more successful.

This should be done by both individuals and by groups or companies to establish an ever-changing environment of growth and forward progress, known as having a growth mindset. Not only should you work on improving areas of growth, but work on making your areas of growth become areas of strength. This is essential to be successful at a high level.

Setting goals helps you constantly evaluate your current strengths and weaknesses and lets you think about how to improve in areas where growth might improve your quality of life. As a result, you gain a sense of past victories and create motivation for your future.

Setting goals forces you to think about your priorities and what is important to you and your life. Goals help you separate reality from unrealistic wishful thinking and helps you take control of your life by creating responsibility and accountability for yourself.

Setting SMART Goals

Now that we’ve established the importance of setting goals, it is important to note that poorly written goals can sometimes be worse than not writing goals at all. Poorly written goals can cause a person to focus on the wrong outcome, take unethical shortcuts, hyperfocus on one area while neglecting other areas, and cause a decrease in intrinsic motivation.

When setting or writing goals, it is important to create a SMART goal.

S – Specific. What will be accomplished, and what actions will you take?
M -Measurable. How will you measure or determine if the goal has been reached?
A – Achievable/Attainable. Is the goal realistic? Do you have both the skills and resources needed?
R – Relevant. Does your goal align with broader goals, and why is the result important?
T – Time-bound. When will the goal be accomplished?

Here is a SMART Goals Guide for a deeper look at SMART goals. Let’s take a deeper look at each of these areas with respect to setting a goal.


Being specific about what you want to accomplish is critical when setting a goal. If the goal is a group goal, who needs to be involved with the goal? What is it, specifically, you want to accomplish? Where will you work on achieving this goal? Which obstacles may keep you from accomplishing your goal? Why is this goal important?

Answering these questions will help you gain a deeper level of understanding and think about the details required to reach your goal successfully.

Note: Avoid generalities such as “I want to get a job,” “I want to travel more,” “I want to get in shape,” or “I want to make more money,” as these goals don’t provide any direction required for you to take to be successful. These goals are too generic to be of any help.


Your goal should be measurable, meaning there will be a defining moment when you know whether or not you have reached your goal. Not only should you know when you have reached your goal, but you should also be able to measure your progress toward your goal by reaching milestones on your journey.

How fast do you want to do something? How much determines success for you? How much money? How much time will you put into making sure you reach your goal?

Note: If your goal isn’t measurable, there is no real way to determine exactly when you have reached your goal. If you can’t picture a moment in your head where you have reached your goal, then it probably isn’t measurable.


Consider whether or not you have the skills required to reach your goal. Do you have the resources needed to reach your goal? If you answer no to either of these questions, then perhaps another goal needs to be made in which you will learn and devote time to increasing your skills or acquiring the resources you need to accomplish your goal before you move forward to the goal you ultimately want to achieve.

Note: Start small and be safe. It is better to do all of something with less effort than to put too much effort and not complete your goal, especially when considering exercise and health goals. For example, it is better to do five pushups from your knees three times a day every day for a week than to do ten regular pushups on day 1 but then be too sore or injure yourself to the point where you only do ten pushups 2 or 3 days out of the week.


Your goal’s relevance needs to align with your broader vision of health, business goals, academic goals, etc.

If the goal isn’t improving your quality of life, perhaps another goal may make more sense. If your goal doesn’t align with your morals, what makes you happy, or self-worth, the goal may not be relevant to your needs.

Note: Realistic may come up for the R in smart goals if you search for SMART goals, but keep in mind that realistic means the same thing as the A, which is achievable or attainable.


Providing target dates for when you will attain your goal is important to help create a level of urgency and motivation. There should be a time period in which you are working towards obtaining your goal. If the goal is stretched over a longer period, such as a quarter (3 months), then it is helpful to determine a checkpoint at the halfway mark to ensure you are keeping pace toward your goal.

What date will the goal be reached? What needs to be completed at the halfway point (for longer-dated goals) to help ensure the goal can be achieved? Is the date set random, or does it mark an important deadline for you?

Note: Expect bad days. Don’t get discouraged. You are becoming a better person; one day or setback doesn’t define you. It is often necessary to take some steps back before you can move forward. “Slow is smooth. Smooth is fast.” – a quote used in the Navy SEAL teams.

Long-Term Goals vs. Short-Term Goals

Long-term goals require short-term goals to be successful, but both are very different from each other. For example, a long-term goal may be to graduate college, but you will need to achieve several short-term goals to make this happen, such as applying to a program of study, taking certain classes, or earning a certain GPA in your courses.

Long-term goals should be determined by who you want to be in the future based on your morals, what makes you happy, and who you want to become. These ideas revolve around your life mission and purpose and should expose who you are to the core.

Short-term goals should be determined by what you can do at this very moment in time with the resources you currently have on hand. These goals will help lead you to a point where you can then change who you want to be in the future or what you want to do.

Create an Action Plan

Determine a Long-Term Goal

Work backward when creating your goals. You must first determine what your long-term goal is before you set your short-term goals. Then, when you figure out what you want to do, who you want to become, or the big picture of your goal, you can start working backward in developing a plan.

Close your eyes and imagine a world where you have achieved your goal. What does it look like? What things are you doing? Where are you in your life? What are your next steps?

If you have a list of goals and aren’t sure where to start, the following video may help give you clarity for what is most important in your life to help set the best goal for yourself:

Once you have established your long-term goal, take some time to determine some smaller short-term goals that will help you reach the ultimate and long-term goal you have set for yourself.

Generate Short-Term Goals to Help Reach Your Long-Term Goal

What steps are needed to reach your long-term goal? What will you do, how much time will you spend, what resources will you need, and when will you need to set checkpoints to help ensure you reach your goal?

Create an outline to help map out the steps required to be successful. Be sure to include checkpoints or dates for smaller goals. Create a checklist of your short-term goals and the steps needed before moving on to the next step. It may be helpful to create a to-do list to see what needs to be done for each checkpoint.

After each short-term goal, revisit your plan. Are you still on pace? Do you need to make adjustments due to spending more time accomplishing your goal, or have you reached your first short-term goal faster than expected? Make appropriate adjustments to keep moving forward towards your long-term goal.

Find Your Positive Motivation

Here are some tips to help ensure success and stay motivated:

  1. Just get started. Don’t worry so much about how much you can do. The most important thing you can do is just to get started. If you are doing an exercise video, just hit play and do what you can.
  2. Break it down. If something seems difficult or complex, break it down into simple, easy-to-follow steps. As you practice and go through these steps day after day, you will eventually be able to complete the complex task with much more ease.
  3. Have a growth mindset. You will have bad days. A bad day does not define you or keep you from reaching your goal. If you continue improving, you will be more likely to reach your goal.
  4. Be prepared. Get everything set up, so it is easier for you to start working on your goal. Get your workout clothes.
  5. Imagine life unchanged. Being stuck in the same rut may motivate you to make the much-needed changes you require to be happy.
  6. Eliminate or reduce distractions. If social media, video games, partying, or anything else distracts you, then figure out what you need to get done before you do something that keeps you from obtaining your goal.

Creating Good Habits

If you are struggling with creating good habits or eliminating harmful habits, a book worth reading is Atomic Habits by James Clear. There are also audio and digital versions of this book if you prefer one of those formats. Below are some highlights from the book; however, the book provides a much more in-depth analysis and additional information with the option for a workbook to show you how to successfully incorporate these positive changes into your lifestyle and sustain it for the long term.

“If you’re having trouble changing your habits, the problem isn’t you. The problem is your system. Bad habits repeat themselves again and again, not because you don’t want to change, but because you have the wrong system for change. You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems. Here, you’ll get a proven system that can take you to new heights.”

How to Form a Good Habit

  1. Make it obvious – If your goal is to start running, place your shoes and clothes near the door so that it invites you to run. Print your goal and put it on your bathroom mirror. If you want to get into shape, find an old picture of yourself that you like and put it on your bathroom mirror. Give yourself obvious reminders of what’s at stake.
  2. Make it attractive – Combine a habit that seems difficult for you with something you enjoy. For example, walk on the treadmill while watching your favorite show. Do something you enjoy immediately after doing something difficult for you that needs to be done to help you reach your goal.
  3. Make it easy – If your goal is to start working out, get everything prepared the night before. Get your clothes and gear out. Get the equipment out that you will need to work out. Reduce the friction keeping you from starting your new habit.
  4. Make it satisfying – If you are trying to get to 10,000 steps in one day, then set aside some money for each milestone. For example, perhaps you are at 1,000 steps, so you set aside $10 for every 1,000 steps you add to your total. Then, once you reach your goal of 10,000 steps, you can go out for dinner, buy yourself some shoes, or whatever motivates you to reach your goal.

How to Eliminate a Bad Habit

If you want to reduce your time on social media due to the distractions it causes and that it keeps you from being productive, here are some ideas that could help. First, set aside a certain amount of time (30 minutes) to be on social media once you have completed all tasks on your to-do list for the day. However, if you open social media before that point, here are some things you can do to help create the change you need to reach your goals.

  1. Make it invisible – If the buzz of your phone from social media distracts you from getting things done, turn off the notifications that keep you from reaching your goal.
  2. Make it unattractive – If you want to reduce your time on social media, set your phone down and go for a walk around the block every time you open up your app before completing everything on your list for the day.
  3. Make it difficult – Keep your phone in a different room so that it isn’t accessible to you while you are trying to get work done.
  4. Make it unsatisfying – Keep a log of your daily time on social media. You can download time tracker apps that show how much time you spend on each app on your phone. At the end of the day, write down how much time you spent on social media and then make a list of what you could have done with that time to be productive in working towards your goal.

The Bottom Line

Setting long-term and short-term goals are critical to establishing a plan and motivating you to reach your goal. However, poorly written goals can also keep you from reaching your goals. Whether you are trying to reach a new level of health, kick a bad habit, or just improve your overall well-being, there are some strategies you can implement to help improve your chance of success.

Create a well structured SMART goal to help achieve your goals. Develop an action plan with specific details and checkpoints to measure your progress. Figure out what motivates you and use that to help structure your action plan. Consider using outside resources, such as Atomic Habits, to help learn strategies that can help get you closer to your goals. Don’t be afraid to ask other people for help or advice. They may think of something you forgot and have some very valuable feedback.

Change isn’t easy. But the following tips will give you a better chance of reaching your goals.

  1. Write a SMART goal.
  2. Break it down. Take large tasks and break them down into smaller tasks. Slow is smooth. Smooth is fast.
  3. Develop an action plan with checkpoints on progress.
  4. Figure out what motivates you and incorporate that into your plan. Imagine your life without making changes related to your goal. Use this as motivation to do things you may want to avoid doing.
  5. Be prepared. Get everything ready so that you have minimal distractions. Prepare everything ahead of time to make it easier.
  6. Eliminate or reduce distractions.
  7. Just get started. Every day, just start. Don’t worry about how far you get. Just get started.
  8. Have a growth mindset. Not every day will be a good day. So instead, focus on your overall progress.
  9. Celebrate your successes.
  10. Continually evaluate your progress and what comes next once you reach your goal.