Setting Smart Goals
Have you ever made resolutions, or set goals for yourself, only to get frustrated or lose motivation at some point or another on the journey toward that “light at the end of the tunnel” that never seems to get any closer? You’re not alone. And it’s exactly why I wrote this article.
The truth is, even your plans need plans. If you don’t know how you’re going to get to your goal, or more importantly, how you’re going to do the “hows”, you’re already setting yourself up for failure. This doesn’t reflect badly on you as a person. It simply reveals a misunderstanding about goal setting.
It’s a frequent misunderstanding of my own too. But I’m determined to improve!
Reaching goals is something we all strive for whether we know it or not. It’s progress toward something we value that makes us feel satisfied with the work we do. As I tell my clients often, I don’t believe there’s any such thing as stagnancy: we are either progressing or regressing. Progress, for example, can even include rest and vacation if they’re improving our health, decreasing stress and increasing quality time with loved ones. I don’t know of anyone who regressed from something they valued and celebrated it as an achievement. Unless you consider weaning off a bad habit as a regression…but I’d say that’s actually progress! I digress… ;)
So how do we improve our ability to set and keep goals so that we actually make progress toward them and eventually reach them? We set S.M.A.R.T. goals.
What is a S.M.A.R.T. goal?
The word ‘S.M.A.R.T.’ is an acrostic to help you clarify the “how’s” and remember the process that will make your goals more achievable. Check it out: S.M.A.R.T. goals are Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, and Timed (or timely).
For example, let’s say you made a new year resolution to lose weight, or get fit, or even a little more specific, “look like a fitness model by the end of the year.” Goals like these are well intentioned but even the greatest of intentions aren’t actions. Even the last example, although more specific, still lacks any sense of direction for action. How are you going to get there? What are you doing already that is getting you closer (or further) from that goal? What do you need to change? How? You see, it’s no wonder why so many of us abandon our “resolutions” so early in the year.
But there’s still hope! Simply by defining your goal a bit better, you can drastically increase your chances of achieving it. Let’s take the “Resolution” from above and make it a “S.M.A.R.T. goal”.
Example Resolution: “I will lose weight this year”
Example S.M.A.R.T. goal: “I weigh 160 pounds. I will lose 6-8 pounds a month (1.5-2lbs per week) for 12 weeks to reach my goal weight of 140lbs.”
Do you see how the resolution went from vague and
overwhelming to specific, measurable,
actionable, realistic (1.5-2lbs a week is a reasonable and healthy rate for weight loss), and timed?
You’ve just decided HOW you’ll reach your goal (lose 1.5-2lbs per week for 12 weeks). Now you can go further than that and improve your rate of success by deciding HOW you’ll do the hows.
Example: “I weigh 160 pounds. I will lose 6-8 pounds a month (1.5-2lbs per week) to reach my goal weight of 140lbs by tracking my food and calorie intake and exercising 30 min a day 5x week, for 12 weeks.”
See? Now you basically have a road map to your goal. Wanna make it fool proof?
Here are further tips for achieving your goal:
Schedule it. Make appointments with yourself in your calendar with alerts/notifications and make it a priority!
How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time! Biting off more than you can chew will only discourage you.
Plan rewards along the way. Celebrate “mile markers” you’ve reached toward your goal, and when you reach your goal, make sure there’s a reward that means something to you waiting for you (something that won’t sabotage your progress)!
Get friends/family in on the action! Either get someone to commit to the same goal with you (buddy system), or simply tell as many people as possible about your goal and when you’re committed to achieving it by (accountability is key)!
Lastly, if you want to make sure your goals have the best possible chance at being successful goals, they must be significant to you. Think about your “why”, as in, “Why do I want to accomplish this goal in particular?” If your “why” is personally meaningful it will have deeper value and you will be much more likely to stick to your plan and reach your goal.
Cause Fitness is motivated by the ‘why’ too. Want to know what it is? Read more here.
Just FYI: If your goal is to get stronger and/or lose body fat and you want to be a part of something greater than yourself while you work towards that goal, check out the downloadable Cause Fitness ebook programs. A minimum of 10% of all proceeds go to #CauseFitnessApproved charity organizations such as Changing A Generation and World Vision.
And finally, just to keep our priorities in check…
“We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps.” – Proverbs 16:9 NLT
“Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” – Ephesians 3:20 NLT
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YOUR TURN: What is your goal, and why? Tell me in the comments below! I love hearing from you and doing life with you!