The first step towards accomplishing any health and fitness goal, whether it be weight loss, a faster 5K run time, or improving flexibility, is to establish a well thought out and constructed goal. There are many methods and techniques focusing on good goal setting, and one of the easier to remember and follow is SMART. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely. Applying the SMART acronym when goal setting will help ensure your goal is clear and that you are focused, accountable, and ultimately successful!
SPECIFIC – Be sure your goal is detailed and specific and avoid setting general, vague, goals. Define exactly what you are trying to accomplish and use numbers or values when possible. Common general goals include: “I want to lose weight” or “I’m going to be more consistent with my workouts.” How much weight do you want to lose? And by when? What constitutes being more consistent with your workouts? Good specific goals would read something like this: “I want to weigh less than 150 pounds by May 1st” and "I'm going to exercise for thirty minutes or more six days a week."
MEASURABLE – when establishing a goal, ask yourself how you will know when you have reached your goal. It is a good idea to take some baseline measures before setting your goal, this way you will know exactly where you are starting from. You can complete a comprehensive Fitness Assessment, or measure specifically related to your goal. For example, if you wanted to improve your 5K run time, you could use your last 5K time as your baseline and establish your goal from that. If you completed your last 5K in twenty eight minutes, a measurable goal would be to run another 5K in under twenty seven minutes by your specific goal date.
ATTAINABLE – Be sure to set realistic goals. To succeed at reaching your goal, it must be something that you are willing and able to complete. Setting unrealistic goals can result in a loss of motivation, decreased self-esteem, and a greater likelihood of abandonment of the goal. Early on it may be better to set a conservative, more easily achievable goal. This way you can boost your confidence and self-esteem, and you can always set a more aggressive goal after knocking the first one out. Do some homework to determine what is realistic to help avoid setting overly aggressive goals. Be sure to factor in your goal date when determining what is attainable and realistic.
RELEVANT – Be sure the goal you are setting pertains to your desired objective, and that you have the skills and resources needed to reach the goal.
TIMELY – It is important to provide a timeline for your goal. When are you starting? When would you like to accomplish this goal by? Be sure to use specific dates. Many people set goals based on weeks or months only to forget how long it has been since they started. Sometimes goal dates may be dictated by an upcoming event such as a High School reunion or wedding. Be sure your goal date reflects the size and scope of your goal so that it is attainable and realistic. If your goal is to lose fifteen pounds, a goal date four weeks away would be unrealistic, but a goal date 12 weeks out would be workable. Try to establish goal dates that aren't so far away it will be tough to stay focused and motivated, and not too soon so that it will be difficult to achieve any significant measurable results.
More Goal Setting Tips:
Write your goals down and post them somewhere visible where you will see them daily.
Break larger aggressive goals down into smaller more focused goals that add up towards reaching that ultimate goal.
Always have a goal! Always have a goal! Always have a goal!
Set goals that are challenging but attainable. It can be tough to get motivated and excited about a soft or easy goal.
Once you have set your goals, the next step is to brainstorm and draft an Action Plan - a future discussion, so be sure to check back.