You could say that the whole human endeavour is geared towards setting and achieving goals. Goals are part of every aspect of life: how you conduct your relationships, what you want to achieve at work, and the way you use your spare time. Everything comes down to priorities and what you would like to accomplish – whether you make a conscious choice or go with subconscious preferences.
Without setting goals or objectives, life becomes a series of chaotic events you don’t control. You become the plaything of coincidence. Accomplishments like putting the first man on the moon, inventing the light bulb, or creating the first gas engine, are all results of a conscious goal setting – a vision that was charted and realised.
What is SMART goal setting?
SMART goal setting brings structure to your goals and objectives. Instead of vague resolutions, SMART goal setting creates verifiable trajectories towards a certain objective, with clear milestones and an estimation of the goal’s attainability. Every goal or objective can be made S.M.A.R.T. and as such, brought closer to reality. In the fitness world, SMART goal setting is one of the most effective and yet most underutilized tools for achieving goals. SMART goal setting will not only help you see where you’re going and create a clearly defined way to get there, but will also help your coach (ME!) guide you and keep you accountable.
Example: Sally does not have a SMART Goal. She says, “I want to lose weight and be healthy.” Sally loses 8 lbs in one month but doesn’t feel like she lost enough and so gives up.
Because she had no clear idea of how much she wanted to lose and how quickly, she got discouraged and fell short of her goal. Sally quickly reverted back to her old ways and regained those 8 lbs the following month. Sally allowed herself to fail because she did not have a way to measure her goals.
At the same time, Mary also decided to work on losing weight, but she used SMART goal setting and said, “I want to lose 10 lbs in 1 month by working out 5 times a week for 30 minutes, watching my portions, and eating less than 1600 calories per day.” Mary did not make her goal of 10 lbs, but she did lose 8 lbs and she met all her other goals. Instead of getting discouraged and giving up, Mary realized how far she had come in just four weeks and that she was just 2 lbs from her goal. She decided to double down her efforts the following week and reached her original goal the following week. It may have taken Mary 5 weeks to reach her goal instead of 4 weeks, but she didn’t quit, as Sally did.
Mary is well on her way to reaching her next set of goals whereas Sally will have to start all over the next time she decides she wants to lose weight.
What does S.M.A.R.T. stand for?
S.M.A.R.T. goal setting: Specific
What exactly do you want to achieve? The more specific your description, the bigger the chance you’ll succeed. S.M.A.R.T. goal setting clarifies the difference between ‘I want to be a millionaire’ and ‘I want to make $50.000 a month for the next ten years by creating a new software product’.
Questions you may ask yourself when setting your goals and objectives are:
- What exactly do I want to achieve?
- With whom?
- What are the conditions and limitations?
- Why exactly do I want to reach this goal? What are possible alternative ways of achieving the same?
S.M.A.R.T. goal setting: Measurable
Measurable goals means that you identify exactly what it is you will see, hear and feel when you reach your goal. It means breaking your goal down into measurable elements. You’ll need concrete evidence. Being happier is not evidence; not smoking anymore because you adhere to a healthy lifestyle where you eat vegetables twice a day and fat only once a week, is.
Measurable goals can go a long way in refining what exactly it is that you want, too. Defining the physical manifestations of your goal or objective makes it clearer, and easier to reach.
S.M.A.R.T. goal setting: Attainable
Is your goal attainable? That means investigating whether the goal really is acceptable to you. You weigh the effort, time and other costs your goal will take against the profits and the other obligations and priorities you have in life. If you don’t have the time, money or talent to reach a certain goal you’ll certainly fail and be miserable. That doesn’t mean that you can’t take something that seems impossible and make it happen by planning smartly and going for it!
S.M.A.R.T. goal setting: Realistic
Is reaching your goal realistic to you? Is it possible to lose 100 lbs in 30 days, get rid of diabetes in a week, or lower your blood pressure overnight? Of course it isn’t. Be honest with yourself and set goals that are possible, even if they are a bit high. For instance maybe 10 lbs in a month is a high goal if you only have 20 lbs to lose. Notice I said it is a high goal, not an impossible goal. It is okay to set high goals so long as they are still realistic in the sense that it is POSSIBLE you could achieve that goal.
S.M.A.R.T. goal setting: Timely
Time is money! Make a tentative plan of everything you do. Everybody knows that deadlines are what makes most people switch to action. So install deadlines, for yourself and your team, and go after them. Keep the timeline realistic and flexible, that way you can keep morale high. Being too stringent on the timely aspect of your goal setting can have the perverse effect of making the learning path of achieving your goals and objectives into a hellish race against time – which is most likely not how you want to achieve anything.
Another thing that’s very important when setting SMART goals, is formulating it POSITIVELY. Remember that what you focus on, increases. So when you focus on NOT doing something, all you think about is that thing. And it will increase. So instead of saying, “I will stop procrastinating,” instead say, “I will achieve a daily discipline.”
SMART goal setting with your coach
Your Independent Beachbody Coach (that’s me!) can support you in setting SMART goals and objectives, turning them into measurable goals and following up on their completion. That means education, accountability, and support in helping you reach your ultimate goal.
To aid you in setting your own SMART Goals, I have created this worksheet. This is a vital first step for ALL new customers and coaches and will be mutually beneficial in your journey.
If I am not your coach but you are ready to get started in reaching your goals, please reach out to me by using the contact form below. I look forward to learning more about you and helping you achieve your goals!