Achieving Your Goals and Dream Life – Step Four

Achieving Your Goals and Dream Life – Step Four

Realizing Your Potential

After working in the fitness industry for 25 years and helping people achieve their goals, I have discovered that there are common traits that exist between those who succeed and those who struggle.  So far we’ve shared the importance of writing down your goals and action steps and creating a map for your life, the critical act of moving your body and last week, we reviewed the key to eating healthy so you have the energy to reach for your dreams.

After all, what good is it to be achieving goals if you don’t feel good enough to enjoy your life!

Today, we move on to Step Four:


Realizing your potential.  Achieving your dreams means you have to believe in yourself.  You can’t set self-imposed limits on who you are, who you can become and what you can do.  You’ve probably heard the saying

“If you believe you can or believe you can’t, you’re right!” 

Dreams happen first in the mind so if you dream small, you will achieve small but if you dream big, you will achieve big and great things!

I learned this lesson through one of my clients Rick Hansen, a famous Canadian.  When Rick was 16 years old, he was in a car accident and suffered a spinal cord injury losing the use of his legs.  Initially he went through a phase of anger, depression and resentment.  But at one point, he had to make the personal decision to either focus on the 1000 things he couldn’t do anymore or the 1,000,000 things he still could do.  He made the positive choice and went on to excel at wheelchair sports and marathons and ultimately wheeled around the world raising hundreds of millions of dollars for spinal cord research.  He is now a motivational speaker leading the Rick Hansen foundation and continuing to make a positive impact in our world.  He met his wife through his injuries because she was his physical therapist helping him deal with his spinal cord injury and now has 3 beautiful girls.  He focused his life on what he could do versus what he couldn’t do and ultimately created a dream life.

The key to achieving great things is to set high standards for yourself and don’t accept anything else.

One thing I encourage our clients to do is to set a goal of doing something new every 90 days, a quarterly adventure.  By stepping out of your comfort zone, it keeps you young and vibrant, it keeps life exciting and it boosts your self esteem proving you can do anything you put your mind to.  I’m a big fan of Bucket Lists, writing down all the things you want to do and experience before you die.

Many people take this approach – ‘As soon as I lose the weight/get fit, then I’ll start doing the things I’ve always wanted to do”. But I like to take the opposite approach. Let’s set the goal and in the process of training for the event or activity you’ve always wanted to do, then you will lose the weight and get fit! And it’s such a positive, motivating focus. For example, let’s say you set a goal of finishing a 10km fun run. Setting this kind of goal, because it has a deadline, provides a compelling reason to stick to the program and not miss workouts. In contrast, if the goal is to lose 10 pounds in 2 months, if you get off track, you can negotiate with yourself and say, “Well, I guess I can wait an additional week or two to achieve my goals.” But if you get off track with your training program while preparing for an event, you can’t call a race organizer and ask them to postpone the event because you aren’t going to be ready. Every workout or skipped workout will either positively or negatively affect your performance and your ability to achieve your goal. In addition, once you cross the finish line, that’s something no one can ever take away from you. They will always have the medal, t-shirt and photos crossing the finish line. Whereas, with weight loss, someone could lose the weight and then gain it all back next month and feel like a failure. There is a lot of status associated with conquering a tough challenge or finishing an event so your confidence and self esteem receives a huge boost providing you with the belief that you can achieve the next goal. I also found when you succeed at a goal such as this, you then inherently look towards the next goal – it’s just human nature. So you then desire to attempt a half marathon, full marathon, a challenging hike, biathlon, triathlon etc. It’s a positive spiral. Whereas, with weight loss, it’s a negative spiral. You can lose the 10 pounds but you may still not happy. You may then desire to lose another 5 pounds and get rid of this fat and so on and so on. Some of our clients who have had the most ‘perfect’ bodies have been those that struggled with their body image the most! For all these reasons, I try to keep the focus away from Body Image and instead focus on behaviors, events and actions.

bucketlist-300x214So make your bucket list. What have you always wanted to experience?  Learn to salsa, scuba dive or rock climb?  Cycle through France, hike the Grand Canyon, or Kayak through the San Juan Islands?  Run a 10km Fun Run, complete a Triathlon or finish an obstacle race?  Write it all down and then start checking off your list.

The Dalai Lama said “Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before.”  I couldn’t’ agree more and in fact, I hate to disagree with the Dalai Lama but I think it should be more frequent than this!  It doesn’t have to be a new continent or country; it could just be a quaint little city in your state that you’ve never been to, a new beach on the coast you’ve never discovered, a new neighborhood you’ve never ventured to, a different restaurant or a new shopping district.

I’ll finish with this quote by Ashley Montague  “The greatest personal defeat suffered by human beings is constituted by the difference between what one is capable of becoming and what one has in fact become.”  Don’t be your own worst obstacle!

Stay tuned next week as we tackle Step #5.

Sherri McMillan, M.Sc. has been inspiring the world to adopt a fitness lifestyle for over 20 years and has received numerous industry awards including International Personal Trainer and Fitness Presenter of the Year. She is the author of five books including “Go For Fit – the Winning Way to Fat Loss” and “Fit over Forty” and is the featured presenter in various fitness DVDs.  She is the owner of Northwest Personal Training in downtown Vancouver and can be seen running, hiking or cycling with her two children, Brianna and Jackson.  She can be reached at or Note:  As an avid Columbian reader, you can redeem a 2 week pass at her world-class training studio to help get you started.  Contact 360.574.7292 for more details.  

Sherri McMillan

Sherri McMillan

Sherri McMillan, holds a master's degree in exercise physiology and has been inspiring the world to adopt a fitness lifestyle for more than 33 years. She has received numerous industry awards including 2010 CanFitPro International Presenter of the Year, 2006 IDEA Fitness Director of the Year, 1998 IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year, 1998 CanFitPro Fitness Presenter of the Year and 2005/2006 ACE Fitness Educator of the Year - Runner up. She is a fitness trainer, fitness columnist for various magazines and newspapers, author of five books and manuals including "Go For Fit - the Winning Way to Fat Loss" and "Fit over Forty" and the featured presenter in various fitness DVDs. She has presented hundreds of workshops to thousands of fitness leaders throughout Canada, Australia, Mexico, Jamaica, New Zealand, Germany, England, Spain, South America, Asia and the U.S. She is the owner of Northwest Personal Training in downtown Vancouver, the founder of WHY Racing Events & WHY Community, participates in various community fundraisers and can be found running, biking, or hiking around the community. Find more information at

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