Over the last year I’ve learned a lot about how to come up with goals with clients. It determines what kind of workouts I’ll create for them. Do they want to work on strength or cardio endurance? Workouts to accomplish those goals will look completely different. Today I’m going to share how to set goals you’ll actually achieve. I think we’ve all made goals that were too lofty and we were never able to accomplish. At the same time though you want them to be big enough that you have to work for them.
One of the best ways I’ve learned to create goals is to use the SMART acronym. It gets you thinking of all the dimensions of a goal so you have something concrete that you can work with.
Specific // The first step is to get detailed. You want your goal to be something tangible. “Lose weight” doesn’t really mean much. However “lose 8 pounds in 1 month” has a lot more detail to it. Adding as many specifics as possible to your goal will help you know exactly how close you are to achieving it.
Measurable // Similar to the previous example, you have to make your goal measurable. If it isn’t, how do you know when you’ve achieved it? I find that adding numbers to goals is useful for this. “I want to workout 12 times over the next 4 weeks” is easier to measure than “I want to workout more”.
Attainable // You have to make sure that your goal is something that you can reasonably attain. Setting a goal of running a marathon in one month when you currently run 5 km a week probably isn’t going to happen. However, running a 10 km race in 8 weeks is much more reasonable.
As great as it is to have big, lofty goals, I find that making smaller ones is more helpful. Break a big goal down into smaller chunks and you’ll gain confidence and momentum which each smaller goal that you achieve. This also let’s you have some flexibility with your final goal. If halfway there you change your mind or your circumstances change (new job or baby), you can still work with it.
Realistic // Losing 50 pounds in one month isn’t going to happen. But losing two pounds every week for four weeks, is much more realistic. Setting yourself up for failure with a goal that you can’t realistically expect to achieve is only going to make you feel bad about yourself.
Timely // Putting a time frame around your goals is also important. If you don’t have a deadline it’s easy to put off achieving your goal. Having an end date also gives you some urgency and motivation to get started.
Here are a few examples of goals that follow the SMART goal setting system.
- Eat 4 servings of vegetables every day for two weeks. It’s specific (4 servings of veggies everyday), measurable (4 servings), attainable (8 servings everyday when you only eat 1 currently isn’t very likely to happen), it’s realistic if you have a stash of frozen veggies in the freezer and more fresh veggie options in the fridge, and finally it’s also timely because you’ve put a two week time frame on it.
- Add one more workout to each week for a total of four workouts per week for six weeks. It’s specific because you know you’re adding one workout every seven days, it’s measurable because there’s one workout different between what you’re currently doing and what you want to do, it’s attainable because one workout is only an hour added to your current routine, it’s realistic if you know you have downtime throughout the week that you could use to workout during, and it’s timely because you’re planning to do it for six weeks.
How to set goals you’ll actually achieve is easier than you think. They don’t have to be big, drawn out things that take forever to accomplish. Coming up with a goal that’s achievable is much easier if you follow the SMART principle. I know I’ll be using this same method once I graduate and I’m working with clients.
Leave a comment below with the last goal you successfully completed.