So you’ve got goals?
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” or “eat better” 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 like how, when, where. An example might be changing “Be consistent with my running” to something like, “I will improve my 5K time by 30 seconds by doing interval workouts 3 days each week before work.”
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. Using my 5K example, some action steps might include finding a running partner, setting an alarm 1 hour earlier, or packing your workout stuff the night before.
Step Three: Make your goal MEASURABLE. Add detail that you can track by using numbers or other methods of measurement if possible. That could be things like inches, pounds, points, hours, repetitions, minutes, etc. You get the idea. In my “eat better” example, something measurable would be to set a goal of eating 5 servings of fresh fruits and vegetables 7 days a week. This is something you can track to determine if you have met the goal or not.
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. I would love to set a goal to be as good as Kerri Walsh-Jennings but that’s not realistic! I could set goals related to skills and drills that would improve my beach volleyball game though.
Step Five: Make your goal RELEVANT. Why do you want to reach this goal? Write down why this is important to you. People often overlook this. It’s actually really important because if you are setting a half-hearted goal, you will not be very likely to meet it. You need to be committed to it and see what it adds value to your life. If you are trying to start exercising because your doctor told you that you have high blood pressure, it’s relevant to work on this because you don’t want to have a stroke! That’s pretty important.
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. A goal without a deadline is just a dream.
Once you determine and define your goal(s), place the information in a visible spot 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 for that matter. Here are some simple ideas:
- Time spent exercising with a friend
- A day off or some extra rest time
- A new piece of workout gear or gadget
- An experience (live music, trip, etc.)
- Music for your workouts
- A new cooking tool or cookbook for the kitchen
- A massage or spa service
- A pass or visit to a new gym or class
- A subscription to a magazine