It’s the first week of the new year which means that you have likely set or are thinking about setting yourself some goals for the year. Take a moment to think about your goals for last year. Did you achieve them? If not, why not? It may be because you set goals that were unrealistic or too vague.
The importance and value of goal setting is often overlooked and the biggest mistake most people make is setting unrealistic or unspecific goals. “I want to lose weight” or “I want to get fit” are the most common ones we come across with our clients. The difference between setting these goals and actually achieving them is in the details. The most effective way to set a realistic goal AND achieve it is to follow the SMART approach:
S – SPECIFIC
M – MEASURABLE
A – ATTAINABLE
R – RELEVANT
T – TIME-BOUND
Your goal must be specific rather than general in order to be effective. Setting large, vague goals will not motivate you to achieve them. An ineffective goal would be ‘to get healthy’, for example. There are so many ways to get healthy. How do you want to do it? Is it losing weight? Start exercising? Stop smoking? These are all more specific goals, but still too vague. If you want to lose weight, how much weight do you want to lose? You’ll narrow down your goals further by using the rest of the method, but whether you want to get stronger, faster, more muscular or leaner, having a good starting point is important. The main question to ask yourself here is:
- What do I want to accomplish?
Measuring progress towards the achievement of the goal is essential. If a goal is not measurable it is not possible to know whether you are making progress towards completion. Measuring progress helps you stay on track, reach your target dates and continue putting in the effort required to reach the ultimate goal. Remember, what can’t be measured, can’t be managed. Questions to consider here are:
- Can I measure my progress towards achieving this goal?
- How will I measure my progress?
- How will I know when I have reached my goal?
It must be possible for you to achieve your goal. Setting unachievable, unattainable goals is pointless and you will only set yourself up for failure. While it can be helpful to set big-picture goals in the long-term, you need a more achievable goal to start with to keep you on track. You want to start small and see early wins, because this is what encourages long-term consistency. Ask yourself the following:
- Is this goal achievable with my current resources?
- How will I accomplish this goal?
This is where things get a little tricky. Finding your “why” is easier said than done. Creating a goal with some type of motivation attached to it, like I want to lose 5kg in two months to fit into my wedding dress, can give a bit of relevancy to your goal. Whether you want to feel confident at a big event or perform better during everyday activities, pinpoint why a goal is important to you. Ask yourself the following:
- What is my ‘why’?
- Is this goal worthwhile, and am I motivated to do it?
A goal must have a deadline. This will provide you with the necessary focus and sense of urgency to make it happen. You should also be honest with yourself about what you’re able to accomplish in a given time frame. If losing 5kg is at the top of your list and you’re willing to make sacrifices in your lifestyle, you will be able to attain that more quickly. And if not? That’s completely fine too – you just need to adjust your expectations so they’re in line with your schedule and commitments. Ask yourself the following:
- What is the timeframe I want to achieve this in?
- Is my goal achievable within this timeframe?
Once you set fitness goals in a SMART way, it is only about the follow-through. Whether you want to lose 500g per week, be able to do a pull up in two weeks, or run 5km in under 30 minutes in four weeks, you should make a plan to visualise where you want to go. It all starts with deciding what you want, when and how.
Make your plan SMART, remain consistent with it, be accountable to yourself, monitor yourself, assess your progress, accommodate readjustments where needed – and you will be amazed to find how efficient you are in achieving your fitness goals.
The SMART goal setting principle isn’t only useful for setting short, medium and long term fitness goals, it’s a great tool for setting goals in other areas of your life too such as career, financial or relationships.
Have a go at setting yourself some effective and realistic goals now using this principle and let’s make sure that 2021 is the year that you achieve your goals!
P.s Our New Year, Better You Challenge starts on Jan 18th! If you need help achieving your health and fitness goals for 2021 then secure your spot here!