Here is my latest post for Women’s Health Magazine on goal setting.
In order to achieve something that we really want, we need to define “it”. I’m sure we’ve all said that we want to “get healthier” but that’s pretty vague. This is where SMART goal setting can help. Anyone can set a goal, but SMART goals help us understand why we want to accomplish the goal, how we are going to get there, and when it’s going to get done.
It’s easy to get started. Just keep it simple. The key is to be specific. The following steps will focus on what you really want to gain and help you develop a plan to get you there. So, what are you waiting for? Get a piece of paper and write down your goal in as few words as possible.
Step One: Take the statement that you wrote down and make it more SPECIFIC by adding things likehow, when, where. An example might be changing “Be consistent with my running” to something like, “I will improve my 5K time 30 seconds by doing interval workouts 3 days each week.”
Step Two: What action steps will you take to reach this goal? Try to come up with at least three specific things that you can do that will directly impact your ability to meet the goal.
Step Three: Make your goal MEASURABLE. Add detail that you can track using numbers or other methods of measurement if possible. That could be things like inches, pounds, points, hours, minutes, etc. What will be the end mark that will let you know that you have achieved this goal? Make sure to define that too.
Step Four: Make your goal ATTAINABLE. Set yourself up for success. Make sure that you have the resources and support that you need to get there. That could include things like the necessary time to get it done, educating yourself about the safe and efficient way to get there, proper clothing or equipment, and even support services or professionals may be required. This will of course be dependent on the type of goal you are setting.
Step Five: Make your goal RELEVANT. Why do you want to reach this goal? Write down why this is important to you.
Step Six: Make your goal TIMELY. Give yourself a deadline by putting a date on when you want to complete it. Nothing can motivate like a deadline! This also provides accountability. You could even put short-term dates on your goal to track progress over time rather than “cramming” for the end date.
Once you determine and define your goal, place the information in a visible place that will be a daily reminder for you. You can also tweak goals and set new ones. Consider building in some type of reward for yourself once you have accomplished it. Ideally the reward is something that supports your healthy behaviors. It doesn’t have to be expensive or even cost anything. Here are some simple ideas:
- Time spent exercising with a friend
- A day off
- A new piece of workout gear or gadget
- A new cooking tool for the kitchen
- A massage or spa service
- A pass or visit to a new gym or class
- A subscription to a Women’s Health Magazine or another health or fitness magazine or blog.