Goal Setting

Since the main theme in my introduction was about the benefit of setting goals I thought that I would start out by talking a little about how and why to set goals in life and then establish a path toward achieving them. Although my example is a fitness related goal, goal setting can and should relate to all aspects of your life.

There are many tools available that give guidance about how to set a goal but the one that I will focus on, S.M.A.R.T, because it has been ingrained into me from the moment I joined the Military, is one I recommend due to it’s simplicity. I use S.M.A.R.T almost unconsciously now in both work and personal life.
Women over forty lead different lives nowadays and have many responsibilities that revolve around family and work. Goal setting, unless your superwoman (which I think many of us very nearly are), often takes a back seat to these responsibilities and achieving goals become more difficult. However, there is one thing women over forty have as a bi-product of our 40+ years on earth, determination. Each and every one of you still has a little determination tucked up inside you that can be channelled toward a goal and it’s about finding it, setting a goal, working towards it and establishing a habit.

I do have one admission to make before I delve into the detail of goal setting, myself and my husband are child free, but believe you me I fill that time up with plenty of distractions that threaten the success of my goals.


I will take you through the process of the latest goal I am going to set myself using S.M.A.R.T as my framework. You can use this framework for anything, not just fitness goals.

About a year ago I was capable of comfortably running 26kms and then I suddenly lost my desire to run, which seems to happen to me about once every two years. I didn’t give exercise up completely, I switched codes to HIIT workouts through CrossFit first and then through F45. COVID-19 meant that my HIIT classes switched to online and I don’t have the space in my garage right now so my motivation disappeared. Instead, I started running again, and it felt good, but I was very very unfit and had to start right back at the beginning, so I set myself a goal.

My short term goal is to run at least four times a week between 3-5km while we are in lock down. My long term goal is to get back to running 26km trail runs by November 2020.

I’ve broken down my goal against S.M.A.R.T below.

S – Set real numbers with real deadlines – run, 3-5km, 4 times a week while in lockdown.

M – Make sure your goal can be tracked – I have a smart watch and track my runs on an app.

A – Work towards a goal that is challenging but achievable – I have started with 3-5km, I’m not going to go out and attempt to run 26km as that would be absolutely unrealistic right now.

R – Be honest with yourself, you know what you are capable of – I have done this before from unfit, I know I can do it.

T – Give yourself a deadline – I will do this while we are in lock down.


Women over forty know all about accountability, those of you with kids send your kids to school every day,  you are accountable for their education and their lives as you are for your own development, wellbeing and life.

Using S.M.A.R.T, or another goal setting tool, will help you remain accountable but the rest is up to you. What are you going to do to make sure you stay on track?

I need a little bit extra than my own mind to help me stay accountable for a goal and when it comes to running I usually try to find an event to work back from. This year it is an off-road half-marathon in November. It doesn’t have to be something that costs you money though, you can recruit a friend so you can share your goal, and share your successes. They say a problem shared is a problem halved and we could consider a goal a problem to be solved. Recruiting a friend helps you with the motivation factor and the fun factor but it’s important to set some ground rules about how to deal with ugly/moody days so you come out the other side with a friendship in tack.

Setting milestones is another way that can help keep yourself accountable for a goal. An example of this was my first, second and third runs. Run one I made it to the bottom of the hill, lungs heaving, run two I made it just that bit further to a drain cover about 30 metres from the bottom of the hill and run three I made it all the way up the hill and home without stopping. Now it is about getting faster and feeling better when I finish. A good way to track that is by using a diary or calendar to capture how you felt each day so you can refer back and see your progress.

What if I set a goal and don’t achieve it?

If you set a goal and don’t achieve it, like I did when I ran the Rotorua marathon for the first time and didn’t achieve a finish, revisit it when you are ready, adjust your S.M.A.R.T planning if necessary or change your goal and have another go.

I think it was four years later I finally forgot about the pain and disappointment of pulling out of that run so I tackled it again. This time I asked my husband to stand at the 31km mark with a chocolate bar and a cuddle and to tell me that he will see me at the finish line. That’s all I needed to get me through “The Wall” and home in 4hrs 30.

I won’t run another marathon, because I have decided that my body isn’t made for it but I will set myself smaller distance goals that I know I enjoy. I also now look back and, although I call it a fail, I have pride that ran that first marathon at a half marathon pace to the 31km mark…. a success! I also stretched myself beyond what was comfortable, this is called a stretch goal which I will talk about in another blog post.

Celebrating success + success goggles

It’s really important to celebrate your successes and look at a failure with your success goggles on. What did you achieve in your path to achieving that goal? Did you do something you have never done before e.g. run longer than you ever have or did you stand up and present to a larger crowd than you have before. Whatever it is, celebrate it, I think you lucky parents call it positive reinforcement, and as you know, it works! It can also be looked at like a little bit of transactional leadership on yourself!


I hope I have motivated you all, as women over forty, and given you one tool and some ideas about setting and how you work towards achieving them and what to do if you don’t quite get there. It is not one size fits all so find what works for you and adjust based on who you are, what you can achieve and how it fits into your life. Have confidence in yourself, as a woman over forty, you have achieved so much in the last 40 years, don’t slow down there’s no reason to if you don’t want to. Keep striving to be the best version of yourself that you can be, it will do you wonders!

Good luck to you all and wish me luck on my now very public commitment to run 26k off-road again.


13 Replies to “Goal Setting for women over forty”

  • Thanks for This Deirdre, I think that many people fail to achieve the potential of what they set out to achieve because they don’t have a target (goal).
    I am a huge fan of goal setting and particularly SMART as a framework.
    Thing is oft times I will have to change my plan along the way but that is ok if I always know where it is that I am heading and it keeps me honest and focused
    Great first post looking forward to following your Blog.


    • Hi Hamish
      Thank you for your comment and thank you for pointing out that it’s ok to change your plan along the way. I remember a TEDX talk, by a NZ entrepreneur now living in New York, Claudia Batten, who talked about her shock in discovering that she couldn’t just train as a lawyer, travel to New York and get a job immediately. She was horrified to find out that sometimes it is not a straight line to achieving a goal. She goes on to say that it doesn’t matter if the path you take to your goal is a wobbly one as long as you know where you are going. This is a really important thing to remember so I appreciate you raising it.

  • Being in the military I’m sure you’ve heard the K.I.S.S. acronym 🙂 There’s something about simplicity and your S.M.A.R.T. technique is a solid one. My sister in law definitely needs to read your blog! Bookmarking this for her now!

    • Thank you for visiting my site + commenting. Yes K.I.S.S (keep it simple, stupid) is a great addition to S.M.A.R.T. If you don’t understand what you are trying to achieve it is likely over-complicated, which puts it at risk of achievement. I’m glad you think my blog will be helpful to your sister in law, my next release is about creating habits so is complementary to setting goals.

    • Thanks for visiting, yes I do think that the same theory can be applied to everybody but it’s whether that framework or theory resonates with you. There are a number of goal setting tools out there and this is just one of them that I have found to be the one that sticks for me. I definitely recommend giving it a go!

  • This is a wonderful and educational post for women over 40!

    Setting goals, and having accountability is so helpful.

    I recommend holding a friend, or someone close to you, as an accountability buddy.

    This post is beneficial and I will be sharing!

  • I concur with your views, I would like to add that if your goal doesn’t reflect your beliefs and character, then you’ll have difficulty achieving it. And even if you do manage to get what you want, you won’t be entirely happy. Set a goal that is meaningful to you and be clear about the consequences of your outcome.

  • Totally agree. SMART is a great way to be more disciplined in every aspect.. to be honest I have used the tool more for business strategies and my fashion blog but never thought of applying it to fitness goals and now I’m seriously considering doing so as I’m needing it more than ever lol.
    Thanks for the new idea. 😀

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