Y’all see it all of the time, especially at this time of year. Everyone is ‘setting goals’ that they’re going to magically follow through with on the first of the year. But really, are they real goals? Or are they just things that sound nice?
Goal setting is one of the most important aspects of fitness and weight loss. You can’t get to your destination if you don’t know where you’re going.
“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat. “I don’t much care where—” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.
If you don’t care where you end up, it doesn’t matter which way you go. This in turn leads to a confusing path usually leading the opposite way from your goal.
While I commend anyone who starts their fitness journey, even if they stumble and fall, it is self sabotage to not have a goal. Without a goal, you can’t develop a plan to work towards said goal. You’re essentially going into the woods without a map, without solid training, so you’re going to end up going in circles.
But when you have a goal to work towards, you can create a plan to get you there. I’m sure you have heard of SMART goals before. And if you’re anything like me you roll your eyes every time you see it. But bear with me – I promise this is going to help you.
SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-based.
So the first step is setting a specific goal. “I don’t want to be fat anymore” isn’t a specific goal. It isn’t measurable, attainable, or relevant. It doesn’t tell you where you want to go. ‘Not fat’ doesn’t mean much. So you need to be specific.
You need to set something specific. For example, “I want to lose ten pounds.” That’s specific. It’s something that you can measure, something that you can actually work towards and attain, and you can put a time limit on it to provide motivation.
Once you have that goal, you can figure out the rest.
How are you going to measure it? If your goal is to lose ten pounds, you’ll probably measure it by the scale weight (although this isn’t the best way to go about it, I’ll continue to use it for the example). If you’re working towards a body fat percentage, maybe you’ll take pictures every two weeks to compare and work towards that body fat percentage. If it’s fitness based, like lifting a certain amount of weight or running a marathon, you’ll write down and track your progress every week or two. You have to find a consistent way to measure progress so you can see if you’re actually making headway towards your goal.
If you don’t have a good way to measure, you’ll end up crediting yourself for progress you didn’t make. Or worse – you won’t credit yourself at all for progress that you’ve made. Here’s a very important part of this step that many people miss: celebrate your wins. Celebrate every progressive step made toward your goal. Make a post on social media, have a dance party, call your best friend. Do something that will really cement in your brain that you’re kicking butt. That will help to keep you motivated and constantly moving forward. It will also keep you from getting stuck in your own head when you feel like you’re not making progress. You’ll be able to look back on those celebrated wins and know that you’ve got this.
A major part of this process is to remember to keep it attainable. Losing 40 pounds in a month is not going to happen. That’s not attainable. That’s just going to make you feel like crap when it doesn’t happen. But that doesn’t mean they need to be so easy that you can make it happen with little effort. Set a goal that’s attainable, but that also scares you a little. It should be just beyond what you think you can do. You want a goal that’s going to push you out of your comfort zone. When you find that balance between attainable and just out of reach, you’re in the sweet spot. Even if you don’t reach that goal, you can be really proud of yourself that you achieved what you did because you know that you gave it your all. This is where you’ll also see what you’re really made of. You’ll see just how strong you are.
Relevant is the one that I feel people get kind of lost with. What this means is that you want this goal to be relevant to your life and something you’re working towards. If you hate to run, but you’re setting a goal to run a marathon, that isn’t going to end well. If you hate to write, but you’re setting a goal to write a book, that just isn’t relevant to you. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t create goals that stretch you. If you hate running but want to run a marathon then by all means do so. But make sure you have the drive behind that goal to keep pushing even when you absolutely hate it.
Time based is the final part of SMART goals. This is where you set a deadline to achieve that specific goal. Without a timeline, you’ll never have any urgency to actually get it done. One step beyond that is to tell someone to keep you accountable. I told myself for years that I wanted to write a cookbook. But I never gave myself any deadline, so year after year went by and it never got done. It wasn’t until I set a solid deadline for myself and told my followers to hold me accountable that I got it done. It’s really easy to forget our goals when we’re keeping them to ourselves. We let ourselves down every day – so this won’t hurt so much if you don’t do it. But when you tell someone who you know will remind you of it every day, to push you to be your best at it, you’ll be more apt to follow through. You don’t want to let them down.
Setting goals this way, especially when you’re first starting on your health and fitness journey, makes the process so simple. But here’s the deal: setting a goal isn’t going to magically solve all of your problems. You need to figure out what you need to do to make that goal happen, and work at it every single day. You have to put in the work or else the goal will be nothing but words on a page.
So get out there, SMART your goals down, and get to work. I’m so excited to see all of the amazing things you do.
What’s a goal that you can put into action using the SMART system? Let us know so we can hold you accountable!