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How Kayla Itsines Sets Goals That Are Actually Achievable

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Photo: @kayla_itsines/Instagram

Raise your hand if you've ever had a New Year's resolution seem totally doable in January, only to have it fizzle out before the calendar page flips to February. Same. But if you're determined to make this year's goal actually stick, you might want to look into Kayla Itsines' new book, The Bikini Body Motivation & Habits Guide. It's dedicated to setting healthy habits and sticking to them in the long term, and a quick peek at Itsines' Instagram proves that she's figured out the secret sauce to motivation. Here's what the fitness star says is worthy of putting on your to-do list. (PS: Here's what everyone really thinks about New Year's resolutions.)

1. Define your goals.

If you don't take the time to think through exactly what you're hoping to achieve, you'll be less likely to care whether or not you reach it. So don't keep those goals as abstract ideas in your head. "Create a mood board for inspiration, then sit down and reflect on where you are now and where you want to be—then write this all down!" Itsines suggests. (Not sure where to start? Narrow down your options by skipping these common resolutions.)

2. Define your why.

Now that you've written out your goals, you need to know what motivated you to write them down in the first place. Pro tip: Scrap anything that you're doing to impress other people, and leave the goals you're doing for you.

3. Be realistic.

It's not likely that you're going to drop 20 pounds, read 10 books for pleasure, and go on a fabulous vacation all in a month. So don't set yourself up for failure before you even start. Instead, think about what goals are feasible with your lifestyle and schedule, and plot mini goals that help you inch closer to your big goal. Itsines says that'll help you prioritize and reflect on what's achievable, when. (Side note: This is the #1 New Year's resolution mistake people make, according to experts.)

4. Set a timeframe.

You don't want to overestimate how soon you'll achieve your goals, but you also don't want to leave it at "sometime this year." Getting specific while still being realistic is best, says Itsines. Try putting check-in notifications in your calendar for when you want to be halfway toward achieving your goal, and another for when you're hoping to cross it off your list.

5. Measure your progress.

You have a start and end date, but it also helps to measure your progress in between. Not only will it keep you motivated throughout the process, but breaking a goal into bite-size pieces can also help it feel less daunting. Example: If your goal is to get eight hours of sleep during the week, try using a nightly sleep tracker to make sure you're sticking to it. The Fitbit Ionic is a solid option—you can even set a bedtime if you struggle with putting down the phone early enough to catch plenty of Zs.

6. Make an accountability calendar.

It requires a smidge more effort on your part, but actually scheduling workouts or healthy meals on your calendar can help you stick to the plan. Plus, you'll get a boost of encouragement every time you get to cross out a task. (Need healthy meal prep ideas? Check out Itsines' zucchini, tomato, and rice frittata.)

7. Reduce distractions.

Think about goals you've failed to achieve in the past. What contributed to the failure? Did something specific stand in your way? Writing down what exactly happened can help prevent any potential stumbling blocks—seeing it in black and white can be the prompt you need to then plan a way around the obstacle and keep you focused on success.

8. Celebrate each mini goal (and the big goals, obviously).

The best part about hitting goals: celebrating your accomplishments! Make sure you don't shortchange yourself on that front: Think of how you'd like to reward yourself every time you hit a new goal, whether it's weekly, bi-weekly, or every few months. Thinking about a potential weekend trip or spa day will keep your motivation strong on those days you don't feel like sticking to your schedule. (Still not feelin' the whole New Year's resolution schtick? Here's why one woman swapped hers for a bucket list.)