REAL, FRUGAL, HEALTHY, and FUN!!!
It’s Saturday again, and that means time to share a little bit more from my studies as I work toward my personal trainer certification. My lessons this past week have been about goal setting. I love this topic! Goals give you drive. They help you better yourself. I want to use this post to share some tips that I really loved from my lessons this past week.
Anyone can set a goal, but a SMART goal gives you the upper hand when it comes to achieving your goal. It gives you detailed direction. What is a SMART goal, you ask? Well, let me tell you:
S – Specific
M – Measurable
A – Attainable
R – Relevant
T – Time bound
The “S” in SMART stands for specific. Your goal needs to be a specific goal. Examples of specific goals might be, “I will lose 20 pounds,” “I will run a 5k,” or “I will bench press my body weight.” You could apply this to other areas of your life, as well. For example, “I will eat 8 servings of vegetables each day,” “I will save $100 each pay check,” or “I will go to bed by 9:30pm every night.” What you don’t want to do is set generic, non-specific goals that can never officially be achieved because they aren’t specifically defined. For example, a non-specific goal might be, “I will get in shape.” How do you know when you’re in shape? You don’t. You haven’t set a specific goal. Another example of a non-specific goal would be something like, “I will be a great runner.” What does that even mean?! Does that mean you run 2 or 3 miles regularly, or does that mean running a marathon? It’s not specific. In order to set a smart goal, it needs to be specific. You need to know what it is you are working to achieve. You need to know when and if you’ve achieved it.
The “A” in SMART stands for attainable. No doubt you’ve heard the expression, keep it real. Keep your goals real. For example, if an overweight woman sets the goal of losing 100 pounds for her wedding in 3 months, that’s not realistic. Few woman achieve that and it’s not recommended. That would mean losing over a pound per day! Similarly, if a young man who’s never lifted weights sets a goal of deadlifting 350 pounds, he’s not being realistic. It might be attainable, but the window of time it would take would leave him feeling frustrated. An attainable goal is something that a person can realistically see themselves achieving within a realistic amount of time. Big goals are great, but SMART goals are well within reach. Once SMART goals are achieved, new SMART goals can be set. Continuing to achieve those SMART goals is how you eventually achieve those really big goals.
The “R” in SMART stands for relevant. If you’re just setting personal goals for yourself, so long as your goal is relevant to you, it’s relevant. However, if you’re setting goals with a trainer, or maybe your doctor has encouraged you to set fitness goals, then a relevant goal would be something relevant to your fitness level. If you’re doctor has suggested increasing your fitness to lower your blood pressure, a relevant goal might be to go walking for 30 minutes, 4 days each week. If you are power lifter, a relevant goal might be to deadlift 400 pounds. Think about the big picture of what you ultimately want, and keep it relevant.
The “T” in SMART stands for time bound. Set a reasonable timeline and hold yourself to it. Let’s go back to that woman who wanted to lose 100 pounds for her wedding in 3 months. The fact that she had a timeline was great. The goal was just unattainable. A SMART goal for her might be, I will lose 50 pounds in 3 months by lifting weights twice each week and doing cardio 3 days each week. Another example of a time bound goal might be, I will run a 5k in 3 months by following the “Couch to 5k” program. Setting a realistic timeline eliminates the element of procrastination. You can no longer say, I’ll start tomorrow. You have to stay on track. You have a goal.
From there, you just have to believe in yourself, and stick with it.
Every time my 4 year-old attends his karate class, upon entering the building, he has to bow and say, “Yes, I can.” Periodically, his karate instructor has their class close their eyes and envision themselves graduating to their black belt. Through this simple practice, the kids develop a belief and confidence in themselves that they can earn a black belt. This is a great practice for everyone. If you’re goal is to run a marathon, imagine yourself crossing the finish line. If you’re goal is to lose 30 pounds, imagine yourself on the beach in Bermuda, 30 pounds lighter. Whatever your goal is, see yourself achieving it. This builds self-efficacy, which is your belief in your ability to achieve your goal.
Self-efficacy can also be built by reflecting on past achievements. Think of something you’ve achieved. Remember the work it took to achieve it. Remember the obstacles you had to overcome. Remember how good it felt when you pushed through and achieved it. Now you know you’ve accomplished things in the past, so you know you are capable of accomplishing things in the future. You have it in you. You’ve done it, and you can do it again.
I would challenge you, at this time, to set a goal. Set a SMART goal. Write it down. Make sure it’s specific, measureable, attainable, relevant, and time bound. Imagine yourself achieving it. Imagine all of the details. Imagine how good it feels. Remember some of the goals you’ve set and achieved in the past. You’ve done amazing things, and you can do amazing things. Go after that goal. You can do it! Yes, you can!