Setting attainable goals

Femke van Schoonhoven
3 min readJul 27, 2018

Eight weeks ago I set myself a goal to run 5km.

As a regular yogi I felt I was missing more rigorous exercise in my routine. I wanted to pick up a sport that would allow me to work at my own pace, in my own time and set my own goals.

So, I decided to try running.

Saying yes is easy but actually doing the work is hard. In order to fully commit to running I knew there was a few things I needed:

I purposefully stayed focused on the goal and ignored shiny things like new headphones, shoes and running gear — things that are easy to think you need.

After all, new gear isn’t what’s going to get me to 5km. Commitment and perseverance will.

So on a Tuesday morning I woke up and started running. Then I did it again, and again, and again…

After eight weeks I’m proud to share that I achieved my goal of running 5km. I even completed it in 30min! Not only that but I never missed a run — not one.

So, how did I get here? Running is now a habit that’s part of my weekly routine. I barely even have to think about going for a run. It’s just something I do.

  1. Create a cue — The night before a run I prepare my running clothes and put my shoes by the door. This mentally prepares my body for a run the next morning. When I wake up I don’t even have to think about getting ready, I just reach for my running clothes that I prepared the night before. This is something Charles Duhigg talks about in his book The Power of Habit which I recommend reading.
  2. Takeaway: Preparation allows for your mind to mentally prepare for the task.
  3. Set a schedule — Committing to 3x runs a week wasn’t enough encouragement for me. I blocked time in my calendar and set recurring ‘Run Time’ calendar invites to myself for the same set of days every week. Seeing it visually in my calendar every time I check it gets me excited about the next run.
  4. Takeaway: Dedicate time to your activity by scheduling it in your calendar.
  5. Choose an attainable goal — I knew nothing about running and what would be achievable within eight weeks. After talking to some running friends they helped me set an attainable goal of running 5km. I didn’t care what my pace was or how long it would take me to run the 5km — I just wanted to run it non-stop. Had I set myself a time or longer-distance goal, I fear I may have either hurt myself in the process or set myself up for disappointment.
  6. Takeaway: Choose a goal you know you’re likely to reach in order to stay motivated.

Here’s some of the tricks I used that helped me thrive. While I used these to work on my goal of running, these tricks can be used for any goal such as learning a new programming language or starting a new project…

Setting a goal is only the first step. Without creating an actionable plan, you’re only setting yourself up for failure or disappointment.

Now that I’ve reached my goal, I’m shifting the goal posts and setting myself a new one to stay challenged.

What’s a goal you’ve been wanting to achieve for a while?

Did you enjoy this post? I write a lot about digital product design, productivity and content. Subscribe to my mailing list to receive new thoughts straight to your inbox.

Originally published at on July 27, 2018.



Femke van Schoonhoven

Kiwi in Canada, Product designer at Uber, Podcasting at @DesignLifeFM, Videos about design: