Do You Just Set Goals, or Do You Actually Achieve Them?

Moody AFB Run
A Moody Mud Run participant attempts an obstacle, May 5, 2018, in Ray City, Ga. Participants trekked 4.6 miles through the mud, water and 29 obstacles that made up the course. This is the fifth year Moody has hosted the event and more than 800 patrons participated. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Janiqua P. Robinson)

We all have our strengths, weaknesses and personal motivations. Some people are merely motivated to start new projects, challenges or goals, while others are motivated to actually finish what they started.

Which one do you think you are?

Starters definitely have strengths. Typically, they are creative and have initiative, but they often lack the focus to complete a single task. By identifying this personality trait, a "starter" can learn how to also become a better "finisher".

However, if you have a team of finishers working together on the projects of a starter, you now have a recipe for large-scale success. When it comes to more personal goals, the starter needs to learn how to finish what motivated them to get started, while the finisher needs to take some personal initiative to get started.

Here are some interesting strengths and weaknesses from fitness, health or performance goals to work goals and a clever acronym that can help improve your ability to finish what you started.

Try this acronym: F.I.N.I.S.H.

Focus On One Thing at A Time

It can be hard to stay motivated when just beginning a new goal requires a lot of hard work. For the starter type, the adrenaline and excitement come with the idea, not the implementation of the idea.

One of the most important things to do is to stay focused on the goal. Plan and stick to it. Break down the goal into smaller, achievable steps and set a timeline for each step. This will help to keep the goal manageable and will keep you motivated to keep going.

The finisher has the ability to focus on the task at hand, while the starter is typically multitasking (and not very well). For the starter, realizing this weakness is the first step. There is nothing wrong with thinking big and getting excited about it, but if you want to make progress, you must think small and get things done one at a time.


Identify your strengths and weaknesses. Be honest and objective with yourself in addressing what motivates you to start, as well as how you lose that motivation and quit. The idea of a goal must be as exciting to you as the hard work of achieving that goal, or you have to learn to bring your game face and mentally prepare to do something that is not what normally excites you.

Take the time to identify where you are and where you want to be. This will help you to create a plan for success. There is a saying amongst SEAL instructors, "Everybody wants to be a frogman on a sunny day." Know that your goals and ideas require focused work to see the intended outcome.

Never Quit

This goes without saying. Starters have to learn how to never quit, and finishers need to learn how to get started. Both groups require a gritty mindset. It is easy to become distracted with busy everyday life, and it can be tempting to put off the goal for another day. This is where your focused discipline must take over the intrusive thoughts trying to distract you with a bright and shiny object. Even if it is only a few minutes a day, stay committed and keep going.


Both starters and finishers have a level of intensity in what they do. Focused intensity is the key to creating a solid plan and strategy to reach a goal.

This can include setting mini-goals, tracking progress and creating rewards for accomplishing milestones. Breaking the big goal down into smaller chunks in a daily to-do list will help you each day to become a task finisher. This daily intensity will improve your strategy for reaching a goal. Never be so intense that you cannot look for guidance and find support from friends, family or professionals to ensure your success.


Motivation to start has to evolve into building the solid habits that are the foundation of our discipline. While motivated, build good habits. These habits are going to be the tools you can use to work at something, even when you do not feel like it.

Getting up early and working out even though you would rather stay in bed is a great example of the beginning steps of these habits that will form your self-discipline. This is a process that you can perfect with fitness and then apply to any other activity in your life. I have often found that fitness discipline is also the catalyst to personal and professional discipline.


Habits are essential for finishing what you start. Create routines that will help you stay focused on the goal and help you push through the hard work. Habits can include setting a regular time to work on the goal, scheduling time for breaks and making time to celebrate accomplishments.

For most of us, our habits are tied to a time of day or length of time each day. Make sure you make an appointment with yourself to get things done. Put it on the schedule, because if it is not on the schedule, it does not exist.

There is nothing wrong with being a starter or a finisher, because the world needs both. We need people who dream, invent and be the pioneers who take us to new and better ways of living. We also need people who are leaders, managers and organizers who get things done.

Without these two types of personalities, nothing will ever change for the better and nothing will ever get finished. Knowing what really drives you with goal creation or accomplishment may be the very thing to help you get more done (or started).

-- Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Visit his Fitness eBook store if you're looking to start a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to

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