Step 2: Set a BEST goal


Set a BEST goal

Expand on the small change you chose in Step 1 and create a BEST goal. The acronym BEST stands for the four characteristics of an effective goal:

  • B = Behavior-based
  • E = Exact
  • S = Sensible
  • T = Time-sensitive

B = Behavior-based

Be sure your small change is focused on behavior and not on weight loss. Weight loss will be the long-term result of your behavior, but it’s not what you should focus on.

You have much more control over your behavior than your weight. Focus on what you have the most control over to avoid getting frustrated by the bathroom scale. How often should I weigh myself?

E = Exact

Add as much detail as possible to your small change. Set an exact goal by answering what, when, where, how often, and how much:

  • What is the specific behavior involved?
  • When will it take place?
  • Where will the behavior take place?
  • How often will this behavior take place?
  • How much is involved (quantity of food, duration of exercise, etc.)?

The more specific your goal, the more likely you are to achieve it. Specific goals lead to specific results and there is no room for guessing or justifying whether or not you’ve achieved it.

“It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.” ~John Wooden

S = Sensible

Be sure your goal is sensible. Determine if you can realistically achieve your goal based on personal factors such as your:

  • Baseline (from Step 1)
  • Commitment level
  • Work and family obligations
  • Current fitness level
  • Time constraints
  • Health and medical conditions
  • Past experience with the same goal

A major predictor of achieving any goal is having a sensible goal in the first place. If you haven’t exercised in the last two months, it’s probably not realistic to set a goal of exercising five days a week for an hour.

T = Time-sensitive

Set a one-week deadline for your goal. Take your journey to permanent weight loss one week at a time. You might set the same goal week after week, but continue to focus on one week at a time.

One week is enough time to achieve a small goal, yet short enough to create a sense of urgency. There’s not much time to say “I’ll do it tomorrow.” Focusing on one week at a time can also help prevent you from feeling overwhelmed.

“Tomorrow is often the busiest day of the week.” ~Spanish Proverb
“People with clear, written goals, accomplish far more in a shorter period of time than people without them could ever imagine.” ~Brian Tracy

Go to Step 3

Intro | Step 1  |  Step 2  |  Step 3  |  Step 4  |  Step 5

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About the Author
Stephanie Averkamp

About the Author was created by Stephanie Averkamp, a recognized health and fitness professional and sole-author of the content on this website. Stephanie's approach to weight loss emphasizes making small, realistic, and permanent lifestyle changes. Read more...

Stephanie Averkamp

Our Approach: Short-term solutions (like dieting) are unrealistic and ineffective because at some point they end. As soon as a diet or program ends, so do the results. Permanent weight loss is a journey; it's not a race or competition and there is no finish line. Read more...