It’s been said that nobody ever accomplished anything worth accomplishing without first setting a goal. Goal-setting has been a valuable tool for everybody from billionaire businessmen to All-Star athletes. Heck, goal-setting even helped put men on the moon.

Surely a little goal-setting can help me with some of my health objectives. I’m going to start small:  walk for 30 minutes, three times a week. I tried to just find time to accomplish this but I wasn’t successful.  It occurred to me to approach this task as I would a project at work. I would set a goal and make a plan. 

You can learn about the benefits of setting goals, the essentials of sleep and other health issues at the Montana Health and Fitness Expo with the 50+ Expo in August. It is a two-day event that focuses on living well. Local businesses will join forces to teach, inspire and guide you toward better health and fitness – regardless of age.

Meantime, here are five quick reasons why developing a specific plan is important and can benefit your life. Setting goals:

  • helps you develop long-term vision. Many people drift through life, allowing themselves to be tossed about by the storms of life with no particular direction in mind. Setting goals forces you to look ahead and develop a vision of what you want your future to be.  My goal started with a four-week plan.  I would take 30-minute walks, times a week for four weeks.
  • gives you motivation. A byproduct of lack of vision is lack of motivation.  If you don’t know what you want, why bother to try to get it?  By setting goals, you get a solid vision of how you want things to be and are likely to put forth the effort. If you have something to shoot for, it makes it much easier to take a shot at it.  If I look at my four-week plan and have completed half of it, it’s harder for me to mess up my streak when I can see I have been doing so well.
  • makes you accountable. So many people wander through life blaming others for their misery. If you set a goal, however, you become responsible for achieving it.  You can keep track of your progress as you finish the steps that accomplish your plan. If you fail to chase that goal, you have nobody to blame but yourself.  Even if you don’t make it, the accomplishments you achieve while chasing your end game will give your self-confidence a boost.  The accountability works two ways:  I feel responsible to myself and I don’t want to let myself down.  As silly as it seems, I want a good “report card” at the end of my four weeks.
  • helps you to organize your time and resources. To get to your goal, you will have to use your time, talents and finances carefully. Setting a goal puts you in the headspace where you have to get organized. You will learn to more efficiently accomplish tasks. You will learn the differences between necessities and wants.  These are all skills that can help you down the road.  I found myself making the time for a 30-minute walk, three times a week.  It was eye-opening to see that throughout the week that I had many blocks of time I could use to my advantage.
  • helps to improve your sense of well-being and life satisfaction. If you feel like you’re working toward something, you will feel that your life has purpose.  There are few feelings more miserable than feeling your life has no purpose. People who have goals to shoot for generally feel better about themselves and where their lives are headed than those with no goals. Perhaps that is part of the meaning behind the cliché, "If you shoot for the moon and miss, you’ll still be out among the stars." My goal was to be out on the asphalt, but I’m thinking I could reach the stars and possibly the moon – eventually.

This is one in an ongoing of health-related articles we will be publishing leading up the Montana Health and Fitness Expo with the 50+ Expo.

Our first installment focused on the benefits of a good night's sleep.