Ah, it’s January, and you know what that means: This year you’re going to stick to your goal of dropping a dress size, putting on some muscle, start waking up at 5AM to run… every day. Why does it seem that each year your goals stay the same, but yet you never seem to hit them?
Perhaps you didn’t have a solid plan to start with and therefore set yourself up for failure. They say, “Failing to plan is planning to fail”… or something like that. This year will be different. Setting SMART Goals will keep you on track while those around you slip off the wagon.
SMART is a mnemonic used to guide people on how to set realistic goals. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-sensitive. Let’s break each of these down and at the end, you’ll be able to download a worksheet to help you get started and stay on track
Specific: Saying that you want to lose weight isn’t specific enough. The next time someone invites you out for happy hour, you’ll crumble. Why? You don’t have enough behind your goal to push back against temptation. You need to be very specific. How much weight do you want to lose? Do you want to lose weight or do you want to lose fat? Do you want to go from a size 7 to a size 3? Why do you want to lose the weight (or body fat)? Is it because you want to look good in your wedding dress? Is it because you want to feel comfortable walking around downtown in a tight pair of Lu Lu’s and feel sexy? You need to make the goal specific and visualize what you will look and feel like after achieving your goal—really feel it.
Measurable: How are you going to measure your progress? Have you determined where you are today and will you be able to know when you’ve hit your goal? Let’s use the weight loss example. If you say you want to lose weight, then how will you know you’ve done it? If you say you want to drop 10 pounds, then you need to know where you start from and then you’ll know when you’ve hit your goal.
Attainable: Are you really going to be able to get up at 4AM every morning and exercise for 2 hours? No. Set a goal that you can reach. Smaller goals are motivating, attainable, and tend to breed new goals equally within reach. Going from a size 12 to a size 2 isn’t realistic, at least not right now. Start with a goal of going from a size 12 to a size 11. Once you reach your goal, recognize your accomplishment and then decide if you want to take the next step. It’s much easier to hit a goal when you’re close to achieving it. When you can see the light at the end of the tunnel, you will tend to stay on track.
Relevant: Setting a goal to increase your bench press when you really want to fit into the jeans your girlfriend bought you last year won’t help you much. Make
sure when you set your goal that you make sure it makes sense and will help you get to where you want to go. If your goal is to complete a marathon, then the bulk of your time shouldn’t be spent in the gym doing bodybuilding exercises. This sounds intuitive, but as a fitness professional, I see this all the time.
Time-sensitive: A goal without a time constraint is just a dream. You need to set a sense of urgency with your goal. Although dropping a dress size is a specific goal that’s attainable, you’ll be more tempted to stall if you don’t have a realistic date set. Dropping 1 to 2 pounds of body fat each week is measurable, specific,
Dropping a dress size in a month is also time sensitive, but make sure you mark that date on your calendar so you have a specific date, such as February 13th, or whichever date you decide.
By using the SMART method, you’ll find yourself not only setting goals, but setting and achieving them throughout the year. While your friends are complaining about falling off the wagon, you’ll be firmly behind the reins and at full gallop on your personal road to success.
To start down the path, get your SMART Goals worksheet here.
With over 18 different degrees and certifications in the health and fitness field, Doug Holt is the “Trainer of the Trainers” who focuses his time on developing cutting edge programs and techniques in the industry. Doug’s vast experience, combined with a passion for helping people, has led him to work in just about every aspect of the fitness industry. Able to draw upon his experience as the former Assistant Director for the International Sports Sciences Association’s Education Department, Director of Information Services for the National Board of Fitness Examiners, and years in the exercise equipment industry, Doug Holt is also the managing owner of Conditioning Specialists in Santa Barbara as well as the publisher of both SB Fitness Magazine and Fitness Professional Online.
Click here to read more about Doug’s fitness background.