Setting (and Smashing) Goals

If you left for work to go begin at your new job without knowing anything about it, how successful would you be? You didn’t know it’s location, how long it would take you to get there. If you somehow managed to find it, you wouldn’t know who to find to start your first day. You might not even have the proper skill set to handle the position. You’d be lost and most likely, the job wouldn’t work out for you.

Your goals work the same way. You have to discern a direction, a plan.

This post will walk you through basic goal setting and give you an idea of how successful ambitions are developed. Living a healthy lifestyle involves setting a series of both long and short term goals and learning how to stay on track and overcome lapses with active goal-setting is one of the most important steps towards your objective.

You want to remember this acronym:
SMART; Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-bound

Specific: don’t just say, “I want to lose weight”. Try saying “I want to lose 35 lbs” or “I want to lower my body fat percentage to 24%”. Leaving goals too vague means you aren’t sure what you are working towards.

Measurable: make sure there is some tangible or intangible way to measure your success. Pounds, inches, percentages, personal records or times, specific weght lifted or distance traveled… don’t just say “run a race”. Specify “run half marathon in “.

Attainable: to set a goal to lose 30 lbs in 30 days is not only unrealistic, it is unhealthy. This is an area where most individuals need guidance. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, doing so will help you avoid unrealistic expectations and stay safe while working towards your goals.

Relevant: I am a personal trainer with 3 kids at home. If I set a goal to visit all 50 states before the end of the year, that is NOT a goal that is relevant to my lifestyle. However if I set a goal to run a 5k with my kids by the end of the summer, that’s extremely relevant to our way of living. You don’t have to discount any goal that seems obscure to you but you should keep in mind that a goal remotely relevant to your every day life will be much more beneficial for you.  (More on this in a moment when we discuss long and short term goals)

Time-bound: put a time constraint on it. This is one aspect that, personally, I feel is the most important BUT is also one that can change the easiest. Life does happen so if you find that you don’t or cannot reach your goal in a predetermined time frame, change the time but never the goal.

Depending on how detail oriented you are and how specific you want to be, there are different levels of goal setting.

Ideally, you would set 1 week, 1 month, 6 month, 1 year, 5 year and 10 year goals. That’s a lot of planning. I normally recommend a 1 week, 1 month and 1 year goal to start. Break down what you want to accomplish, the steps you’ll take to do so, roadblocks along the way and how you plan to overcome them.

One final note, in terms of weight loss, I also find it highly beneficial to set not only a mesaurable “scale or inches” goal, but a performance goal as well. This could include being able to do a pushup, running a 5k, etc. But find something to take some of the emphasis off of the scale.

So here’s an overview.  First, a goal that wouldn’t take you too far: “my goal is to lose weight this year”. Negative.

“I am (determined attitude) going to lose 30 pounds (specific & measurable) in 5 months (time-bound) by exercising 4 times a week after work (relevant to your lifestyle) and eliminating soda and sugar from my diet (attainable)”.

See the difference? 

I have a goal setting worksheet if you need any guidance.  Setting effective goals is the first step towards a healthy lifestyle and you’ll be amazed at how definitive your direction and mindest is when you know where you’re going. Tomorrow, we’ll discuss lapses and relapses in goal settng as well as how to overcome them.

Set some goals today, then smash them!

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