Everyone would like to be Big, Strong, Fit, and Healthy, but how does one get there? Motivation is a key element in the success of any fitness program, whether it is for aesthetic weight loss, sport-specific training, or competition preparation. I find that a lot of people become frustrated with their training programs and simply give up because they have difficulty staying motivated. I think goal-setting is an integral part of how I stay motivated and I wanted to share some of my favorite goal-setting techniques with you. Achieving goals is a strongly rewarding experience and can help you stay motivated to keep improving. Let me start by saying that all your goals must be specific and realistic. Without specific expectations, it is difficult to pinpoint when a goal has been reached. A poorly phrased goal would be, "I want to lose weight". How much? By when? A good goal describes in concrete terms exactly what you want to achieve. Be specific, but more importantly, be realistic. I don’t mean you shouldn’t aim high, but try to keep your goals within reason. On the other hand, set your goals at a level that is challenging enough to still be rewarding! I like to set three levels of goals: short-term, mid-term, and long-term goals. Writing down these goals helps me keep track of which ones I've achieved, as well as prioritize the things I still have yet to accomplish. As soon as you reach your goals, set new ones to keep yourself moving forward. I don't spend too much time patting myself on the back for accomplishing something; it's time to move on to bigger and better things! Short term goals are typically ones I can achieve within a two-week time frame; they are usually a little challenging but still attainable. Short-term goals are important for me to feel like I'm making progress and keep me on track to reaching my mid-term and long-term goals. Set lots of short-term goals so that you can celebrate small victories often! Mid-term goals are bigger in scope and often more complex. My mid-term goals are often set in terms of a number of months. Perhaps it's the 10 pounds you promised yourself you'd lose, or it's making the cut for a premier sports team, or maybe it's placing in the top 5 at your next figure or bikini competition - whatever your mid-term goals, they should fall in line with your short-term goals. Set only a few and really go after them! Long-term goals are where you can go big. Set these accomplishments as your 'destination' and map out your course by setting smaller goals to get you there. My long-term goal is to win a National NPC show and become an IFBB bikini pro; it may take me more than a year, but this is the ultimate goal that keeps me inspired to keep improving. So what are your goals? How will you get there? Keep your goals in sight and you cannot fail! Happy training! - B Becky Patterson is a full-time college student in Kentucky and NPC bikini competitor. She has an admitted weakness for brownies and shoes. Her hobbies outside of the gym are most like those of a little old lady: cooking, sewing, and napping.