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Setting goals is more than just picking something that you want to do and aimlessly hoping to achieve it.
 
Like most things, effective goal setting comes down to the planning.
 
Lucky for you, there’s a handy little acronym built just for the purpose of setting goals.
 
S.M.A.R.T
 
Apart from being an appropriate use of the word, S.M.A.R.T provides you a framework to set your goals.
 

There are slightly different adaptations but typically, SMART stands for:

Specific 
Measurable
Achievable
Relevant
Time Based
  
Let’s break down each part of the framework and create a SMART goal.

Specific

Goals need to be specific because you need to know what it is that you’re actually  aiming for. 

How can you expect to get a specific result if you don’t have a specific goal?

 
By making a goal specific, you are creating a clear, concise and unambiguous target to aim for.
 
Let’s look at an example:
 

Your goal for 2021 is to lose weight. 

But how much weight do you want to lose? How are you going to lose this weight?

 
By being specific with what you want to achieve, you can set out a clear plan on how to achieve it.
 
Instead of just saying I want to lose weight, you can say that i want to lose 10lbs of fat and i’m going to achieve this by exercising 2-3 times per week and reducing the amount of food that I eat.

Measurable

Your goal needs to measurable, otherwise how are you going to know whether you have or are on track to achieve it?
 
Using the example of losing 10lbs of fat, how would you measure this?
 
Luckily we have handy tools called scales that we can step on that will give us a reading on our weight.
 
When it comes to fat loss however, it may be good to include a reference point such a progress pictures so you can visually see any changes.
 
Tools that measure fat specifically (such as skin-fold callipers or bio-electrical impedance), would also be useful but not everyone has access to these tools.
 
By weighing yourself before you set out to achieve your goal, you will have a reference point to measure yourself against and you can continue to do so at intervals set within your time frame. Same applies with taking progress pictures.

Achievable

Is the goal you have set yourself achievable considering your current circumstances and resources at your disposal?
 
Do you have the skills, tools or knowledge to achieve this goal? If not, are you able to attain them?
 
Would you benefit from having a personal trainer or online coach to help you achieve this goal?
 
By considering whether your goal is achievable or not will help you to either solidify your goal or rethink your goal to make it achievable.
 
Gyms are currently closed in the UK, so do you have the resources and/or knowledge at home to achieve your goals? 

 

This may mean doing some more research into home workouts, nutrition and how best to approach it whilst in lockdown.

 

There are tonnes of resources online, but you may benefit from having a home workout plan and/or coach to help you.

Relevant

Is your goal relevant to what you want to achieve?
 
You want to lose weight this year, so is there any point in setting a goal for you to read 2 books per month? Unless you’re reading them on the treadmill, probably not.
 
Make sure your goal is relevant to what it is that you actually want to achieve.
 
This may sound obvious, but when goals are very ambiguous to start with, it’s important to check that they are relevant. 
 
Perhaps a better example of poor relevance is saying that you want to get stronger this year but setting yourself a target to run 5km in 25 minutes. This isn’t relevant to the theme of getting stronger.

Time Based

Does your goal have an end date? How long are you giving yourself to achieve this goal?
 
By setting a time frame you are fully committing to achieving your goal and have an end date to work towards.
 
A time frame helps to bring your goal to life and make the actions you need to take to achieve it a reality.
 
Your time frame also needs to be realistic. We know that a healthy weight loss is 1-2 lbs per week, so a realistic time frame would be to achieve your goal within 10 weeks.

Other Examples

Weight loss is a pretty straight forward example.

 

Let’s look a couple of others to demonstrate the use of SMART goals further.

 

Goal: To improve my strength

 

Apply the SMART principle:

 

Specific: I want to be able to deadlift and squat my own bodyweight

Measurable: Will be measured by tracking my progress on these lifts each week.

Achievable: I have the resources to hire an online coach to help me achieve my goal 

Relevant: Getting strong on these lifts will improve my overall strength.

Time Based: I want to achieve my goal by July 2021.

 

Goal: To improve the way that i look in the mirror.

 

Apply the SMART principle:

 

Specific: I want to put on 7lbs of lean muscle mass and reduce my body fat by 10%

Measurable:  I will take body measurements and take progress pictures to track my progress

Achievable: Yes, i have access to a gym and will purchase a recipe book on muscle building meals.

Relevant: Both of these things will improve the way i look in the mirror.

Time based: I want to achieve this goal by the September 2021 (in time for my holiday).

Setting Small Actionable Steps

No matter your goal, it can also be a good idea to set yourself small actionable steps to help you achieve it.

 

You have your SMART goal, now what small actionable steps can you put in place to start achieving it?

 

Going back to the original goal of losing 10lbs of fat, what actionable steps can you put in place to reach this goal?

 

Examples of this could be:

You can break these down into even smaller steps:

  • Book an induction at my local gym by the end of this week 
  • Book a free consultation with an online trainer 
  • Spend 5 minutes each day writing in my food journal
  • Go for a 20 minute walk each morning

Summary

Setting goals is more than just saying you are doing to do something.

 

To creative effective goals, you need consider the SMART principle to develop a clear and concise picture of what is you want to achieve, how you’re going to achieve it and when you’re going to achieve it by.

 

It’s also important to remember the “Why” behind your goals. Keep in mind the reasoning that’s driving you, and reference back to that anytime things get difficult.

 

Need help with goal setting? You can contact me here or book in for a free online coaching consultation.

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Sam is a Personal Trainer, Online Coach and Fitness Educator with background in achieving results for a variety of clients. Sam now specialises in Pain Free Performance, helping people across the world to achieve their goals safely and effectively. 

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