Let’s talk about goal setting. When we set goals, we often focus on big picture goals, like, I want to lose 50 pounds or I want to run a marathon or keep my house clean or climb Mount Everest (ok, maybe Everest is more lofty than most people are thinking). These are your big picture goals. They are incredibly important in your journey and keeping them front and center as a constant reminder of where you are going is vital. With this in mind, however, sometimes when we set big goals without focusing on the steps to achieve them, we fail. They seem too overwhelming and we give up. So keep that big picture goal in mind, but take a deep breath and know that getting there is doable with the use of small steps.
SMART goals are the stepping stones that will move you towards achieving your big goals.They allow you to focus on the process, rather than the outcome. In the end small, consistent changes over time are what make the biggest impact long term.
So what does the acronym SMART stand for? Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Your SMART goal should answer the ‘what, where, when, why, and how’ questions.
Let’s dive in a little deeper:
- Your goals should be specific to YOU and your current health and fitness level.
- What do you specifically want to achieve? What steps need to be taken to achieve it?
- What, when and where specifically do you intend to do the activity? For example, saying “I am going to walk more this week” is not very specific. Saying “I am going to walk on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 7am around the block” is specific and helps you stick to the goal.
- How can you measure the goal: In time? Distance?
- This is the numeric part of your goal. Example: walk 5k steps daily or exercise for 30 minutes 5 days a week, etc.
- “I am going to walk on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 7am around the block for 30 minutes”
- How will you achieve your goal? Is it attainable with the resources you have?
- For example, don’t set a goal of going to the gym for 1 hour, 5 days a week when realistically, you only have 30 minutes 3 days a week to workout right now.
- Setting unreasonable goals leads to non-compliance, failure, frustration, and may even lead to illness or injury.
- Be honest with yourself about what you are able to give toward your goal right now. It’s better to start small, hit your goal and set a new one, than set a goal you are not able to achieve in the first place. Right now you want to strengthen self-integrity- your “because I said I would” muscle. Choose goals that build that muscle instead of lofty or unattainable goals that weaken it.
- Does this actually make sense for your lifestyle right now?
- Why is it important to you?
- What are your values?
- Setting a goal to get first place in a hotdog eating contest when you want to get healthier and lose weight isn’t realistic or relevant to your life.
- When are you going to achieve your goal? Give yourself a milestone to strive for.
- How long do you want to do this goal? Setting a goal for a day, week, or month is great, knowing that you can revisit at the end and continue, stop, or modify.
- “I will not eat out” is a very different statement than “for 3 days I will cook my meals at home and pack my lunch.” The first has no end point and unless you become a hermit you will inevitably fail. The second is an accomplishable task that can be revisited and renewed.
What are some examples of SMART goals
Instead of: “Increase upper body strength”
Try: “I want to do 1 unassisted pull-up by summertime. I will dedicate 5 minutes at the end of my gym days, 3 times per week, to practicing my pull-up strength and form and performing the exercises given to me by my personal trainer.”
Instead of: “Walk more”
Try: “I will walk for 15 minutes after work on weekdays, park further away from the store, and take my dog for a walk for 30 minutes on the weekend days. This will help me get outside more, have a consistent activity to complete throughout the week, and align with my overall goal to live a healthy lifestyle.”
Instead of: “Eat out less”
Try: I will utilize Sundays as my meal prep days and prep 4 lunches for work every week. In addition, I will cook 2 dinners at home per week. This will help me cut out more processed foods, and lose weight in a sustainable way.
Instead of: “Get more sleep”
Try: “I will commit to a bed time of 10pm every weeknight, which is one hour earlier than I have been doing. I will also restrict my screen time to stop 1 hour before bed and read or meditate instead. This will allow me to not only get more sleep, but higher quality sleep which will improve my life overall.”
Instead of: “Reduce stress”
Try: “I will commit to doing 1 self-care activity of my choosing (massage, spa, meditate, yoga class, etc.) every weekend for the next month to reduce my overall stress. I will communicate this goal with my partner so he/she can help me fill my cup.
Instead of: “Do more social activities”
Try: “For the next 3 months, I will set a reminder on my phone for the 1st of every month to make plans with friends, and commit to 1 social gathering a month. This will help me stay connected to my community of friends which is essential for my personal happiness.”
Instead of: “Be more thankful”
Try: I will write down 3 things I am grateful for every week for the next 2 months. This will help me to slow down, be present, and appreciate the blessings in my life.
Additional tips to help you stick to your SMART goals:
- Write them down
- Set reminders on your phone
- Tell someone for accountability and support – they may even want to join you!
Set yourself up for success this upcoming year by setting SMART goals, and let the Sozo team know how we can help you achieve them.