Lifestyle Easy and Effective Goal Setting – S.M.A.R.T.

goal setting

At some point in your life you probably tried to set a goal for yourself or attempted a New Year’s resolution. I can’t say I know many people who actually do New Year’s resolutions anymore because they just don’t pan out most of the time. Well, like you I’ve gone through that disappointing cycle of making a goal and watching it go by the wayside in the matter of weeks.

I’ve been preached to my whole life to set goals for my future with no one really teaching me how to properly do that. Your first thought is to probably write it down and MAYBE tell someone who you trust. While that might be a good start, it’s usually not enough. Enter the mnemonic SMART. When I say this changed the game for me, I mean it. I’m pretty sure before I learned this I had never really successfully and fully completed a goal of mine. Well, that’s not completely true. I have many achievements I am proud of and I bet you do too.

However, we don’t typically set goals for things that come easy to us do we. The biggest goals by far, year in and year out, are to lose weight, eat better, and exercise more to name a few obvious ones. As you’re about to learn those goals just won’t cut it.

Let’s break it down.

You’ll want to first start by writing down your goal that you had in mind; don’t get too attached to it because it might dramatically change by the time we’re through.

The first letter stands for Specific.

When I ask my clients what their overall goals are, most of them include “lose weight” as a part of their list. Now more than ever as gyms are reopening in some areas people want to shed the weight they gained while working from home last year. Now, I certainly don’t think that’s an excuse to add a few pounds, but that’s a discussion for another time. So you wrote down on a piece of paper that you want to lose weight.

Let’s put that goal under a microscope for a minute. Losing weight is a very broad statement with no real plan of how it will be achieved. Let’s try to narrow it down a bit. How about, “I want to lose 50 pounds”. Now we’re getting somewhere. We have quantified our goal and made it more tangible. In this stage consider finding an accountability partner be it a friend or a personal trainer. 

Now we need a way (weigh?) to measure it. You guessed it, or maybe you didn’t.

Our next letter stands for Measurable.

And sure a scale comes in handy, but we really want a way to track our progress. You can go oldschool and write it down or use an online spreadsheet like Google Sheets or go my favorite route and use MyFitnessPal’s built in weight tracker. You don’t have to use MFP, but so many people know it and have used it that it’s easiest to just go with what you know. Does your initial goal still hold up at this point? If not, try reworking it till it fits the criteria so far. 

Next, we move on to Achievable; sometimes Action-oriented is used.

Simply put, we must actively achieve our goal. Consider this, do you have the necessary abilities, knowledge, and resources to effectively achieve your goal? If not, don’t sweat it. Not yet at least. You don’t have to do this alone so don’t feel ashamed to reach out and ask for help.

I know I wouldn’t be where I am without great people around me throughout my life. Think about why you want to achieve this goal of yours. This will come into play later. Our motivation for our goals and frankly for daily life make a massive impact on our successes and failures. This may seem a little elementary, but do you have what it takes to achieve this goal you set out for.

Is it too grand or complicated?

Keep in mind I’m using a fairly simple example of losing 50 pounds. You can use this guide for whatever goal you have. Say your goal, as a new weight lifter, is to deadlift 405 pounds, but you’re currently only able to do 95 pounds. If you gave yourself one year to accomplish this I might tell you to pump the brakes and reel it back in. Let’s shoot for 275 and celebrate when you smash that goal rather than feel defeated when you struggle to get within 100 pounds of your initial goal. When we create lofty goals we tend to ignore all of the small aspects and day to day grind of accomplishing our goals.

It’s not until you look back that you can really appreciate the journey it took to get there. 

Alright, we’re in the home stretch.

Our second to last letter stands for Relevant.

We can also use Realistic, which goes back to assessing if your goal is achievable or not.

Pay attention here, this is a big one. If our goals are not realistic, we are setting ourselves up for failure. You have to be honest with yourself; take a good long look in the mirror. We’re at another point where I want you to reassess your goal and make the appropriate changes. We want to do this right the first time so make sure this goal is relevant to where you are in life at the moment or where you want to be and that it is realistic.

Don’t dream so big you give up because you’re overwhelmed. This whole process is so that we can look at our goal and have no doubts that it will happen. 

Alright, you made it this far. How’s that goal looking? Is it holding up under scrutiny? Good.

To cap off this list we have Timely or Time-oriented.

When would you like to accomplish this? Well, depending on what you’re doing you have to, again, consider realistically how long it should take.

In my example of losing 50 pounds, which was similar to my actual goal in college when studying this, we need to consider what is “healthy” weight loss. It should come as no surprise that someone who is only a little overweight will lose weight slower than someone who is obese or morbidly obese. You can think of it as exponential weight loss. Consider an obese individual; we can observe their weekly weight loss numbers are much higher than someone who may only need to lose 10-20 pounds.

That being said, in average individuals, we should expect roughly 1-3 pounds per week. Having a range will help you keep a positive mindset towards shedding the weight. Say you want to lose 6 pounds per week and you’re consistently only losing 3-4 pounds. That could be discouraging enough to cause you to give up, which is oftentimes what happens.

See: Realistic.

To round this out, if you want to lose 50 pounds, you should give yourself anywhere from 4-6 months to achieve this. Ouch, that goes against every clickbait fitness guru out there doesn’t it. If we’re being realistic, that’s about how long it could take. We haven’t even accounted for all the variables of life. But, that’s why we just mapped out, from start to finish, how to set up your goal so it will be hearty enough to stand up against the challenges of life. 

Time to make a final reassessment of your goal.

Can you, without a doubt, meet all the above criteria? If the answer is yes then congratulations! You’re on the right path to achieving your new goal. If you said no, try adjusting and fine-tuning your goal until it’s ready.

Stay tuned for more topics just like this one. My goal is to equip my clients and readers with the right tools to succeed in their fitness journeys. 

Piccin Performance

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