Having a solid fitness goal is a great way to power you towards success, but not all goals are created equal. While it's great to have an end-game in mind, there are some best practices which will help you on your way when it comes to goal setting. Whether you want to lose weight, improve your fitness level, or train for an event, putting the SMART method into action can help you achieve what you set out to do.
SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely - all of which are important in reaching your fitness objectives. SMART goals can help keep you on track and remind you of your priorities, so you're able to follow through with every workout or healthy meal you have planned. It makes you accountable and the only way to maintain real long-term consistency.
So get SMART in 2108 and put these five elements into action when you're setting your fitness goals.
I hear all that time that people want to 'get healthy'. A more specific goal would be to lose weight. You'll narrow down that goal even further by using the rest of the method, but whether you want to get stronger, faster, or smaller, having a baseline will point you in the right direction.
Here's where you determine exactly how you'll measure your goal. If we use the example of the unspecific goal here, it would be to get really healthy. But that's not quantifiable. A measurable goal would be to lose 10lbs. You can quantify your progress, and it allows you to pull that into a time frame once you have that. Your goal may be to master a pull-up, run five miles, or go to the gym four days a week - whatever it is; you should have a definite way of knowing when you've reached your goal.
While it can be helpful to set big-picture goals in the long-term, you need an achievable goal on the horizon to keep you on track. You want to start small and see early wins, which encourages long-term consistency. If you set something too challenging, it might be discouraging to not make progress as fast as you would like. You should also consider the size of your goal. For example, a goal of losing 30 pounds in one month just isn't going to happen, so you're better off setting smaller goals that are in closer reach.
This is where things get a little tricky, finding your "why" is easier said than done. Ask yourself, “is this goal worthwhile, and am I motivated to do it?” Creating a goal with some type of motivation attached to it, like I want to lose 10 pounds in two months to be ready for an occasion or a holiday, can give relevance to your goal. Whether you want to feel confident at a big event or perform better during everyday training activities, pinpoint why a goal is important to you.
Giving yourself a deadline will help to create urgency. It's also important not to set your sights too far out. If for example, you give yourself four months to lose 10 pounds, that might be too long because you aren’t incentivized to start working on it immediately. Instead, consider setting smaller goals along the way, like "I want to lose three pounds in two weeks." Maybe running a marathon is your long-term goal, but if you've never been a runner, signing up for one that's a month away isn't realistic—instead, set smaller mileage goals for shorter time periods and work your way up.
You should also be honest with yourself about what you're able to accomplish in a given time frame. If losing 10 pounds is at the top of your list and you’re willing to make sacrifices in your social life and at work, we can attain that more quickly. And if not? That's completely fine - you just need to adjust your expectations so they're in line with your schedule and commitments.
Once you have your goal in place, it's all about the follow-through. Whether you want to lose one pound a week, be able to do five full push-ups in two weeks, or run a 5K in under 30 minutes in four weeks, you can come up with a plan to help get you where you want to go -but it all starts with deciding what you want. Be accountable to yourself, ask for help when you need it, stay consistent and the results will follow.