Creating SMART Goals In Order to Follow Through
Are you one of those people who starts off the new year with 10 different goals but ends it by maybe accomplishing one or two? It’s okay! There’s still hope. I bet you aren’t even the problem, it’s how you set your goals.
Let me take a guess at some of the goals you’ve attempted to set over the years.. You want to lose weight/exercise/eat healthier, get organized, wake up earlier, start reading, learn a new skill, quit a bad habit, or spend more time away from social media.. Have I gotten one yet?
The problem with all of these goals is that they’re too broad! You have to dig deeper and think about the steps that go into those goals. Think of it this way - It’s like you telling someone who’s never baked before that they need to make a velvet cake by (x) date without giving them the directions to make it. They may have the motivation and materials, but they need to have a recipe or guidelines to follow to be successful. So, how do we create guidelines for broad goals? Having SMART Goals.
S - Specific
M - Measurable
A - Attainable
R - Relevant
T - Timely
You’ve probably heard that a million times before in your PE class or guidance counselors office, but it’s because it’s a really good method.
To explain this a little further.. I feel like losing weight is one of the most common goals, so we’ll look at the process through that lens.
To make it more specific, think about why you want to lose weight: To tone a certain area of your body? To fit back into old clothes? To genuinely improve your health? To hit a certain number on the scale? To feel confident again? Think about the reasoning behind the goal. Once you’ve found it - that’s the new goal, not “losing weight”.
How you measure your goal will obviously depend on what it is, but putting it into numbers is usually helpful. For example, if you want to start reading, read (x) pages per day. Weight loss is a bit of an exception because looking at numbers can get obsessive and/or dangerous. Obviously, you can look at a scale, BMI, or body measurements. I don't personally recommend that process for everyone, so if you want to stray away from a scale or numbers, take progress photos or have a “goal” outfit that you can work up to. If you’re wanting to measure confidence or genuine health (best way to go about weight loss), you can write down on a daily/weekly basis how you are feeling about yourself, body, health, etc.
The next step is making it attainable. Goals have to be realistic. Otherwise, you’re going to feel so overwhelmed that you’re not going to want to work towards it at all. You shouldn’t be trying to lose 20 pounds in a month or promising yourself that you’ll spend 2 hours in the gym every single day. Try 5-7 pounds a month and a minimum of a 30 minute workout. If you can do more, great! Start with a smaller goal that you know you’ll be able to achieve, and then work from there. Let yourself collect some wins on the way to the bigger goals instead of setting the bar higher than you can reach.
Next, we’re looking at relevance. What do you need to be doing to achieve this goal? What is absolutely essential? What are some things that you could probably cut out? If you’re going to put time and energy towards your goal - make sure that it’s spent well. What’s relevant or essential to weight loss? Eating nutritious foods, staying active throughout the week, drinking water, getting sleep, etc. What could you cut out of this process? Possibly drinking, snacking on desserts multiple times a day, etc.
Lastly, we need to make sure that our goals are timely. I think of this in two ways - making sure that you have time to accomplish these goals and having a timeline for how you’ll achieve them. To make sure you have the time, schedule it in! Set aside (x) amount of time to go to the gym during the week or (x) amount of time to meal prep. Once you’ve realistically scheduled in that time, create a timeline. Take your measurements and put a date on them - lose (x) amount of weight this month, feel (x) way about yourself within the next couple of weeks, etc.. Just put a date on it.
Creating SMART goals helps narrow your focus on what you want, and then gives you the roadmap to help you get where you need to go. What are some of your goals for the rest of 2020? How will you specify them and follow through?