The term “SMART goal” was created in 1981. It has changed a little since it was first created, but the idea behind it remains the same. It stands for a goal that is specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based. I already knew about (and used) SMART goals before I began studying to become a certified personal trainer, but when I read more about them in my coursework I started to see just how powerful SMART goals can be.
I’m a firm believer in setting goals. I know there has been a lot of discussion lately on whether or not New Years resolutions are a good thing, and I get the argument (really, I do), but in my opinion, a worthwhile goal is never a bad thing! Personally, I like to set goals for myself monthly, sometimes even daily. Some research has shown that people are happiest when they are actively pursuing a goal or ambition. Are we going to reach our goals with perfection? Of course not, so we need to be forgiving of ourselves and just keep trekking along. However, I think we do need to make goals for ourselves… and preferably not just once a year!
My Tips for Creating SMART New Years Resolutions (or any goals for that matter)
If you are anything like me (always trying to keep that precarious balance between work, family, friends, leisure, and all other manner of “stuff”) there are a lot of areas that could use some inspiring goals. Here are just a few of the areas of your life that you may want to set some goals for:
First let’s talk about how to make your goals SMART.
You want your goal to be specific, so if your goal is to lose weight, you would need to figure out just how much weight you want to lose this year. With that first parameter in place your goal might be to lose 15 pounds this year.
The second characteristic of a SMART goal, is being measurable, which means you are able to measure the progress. With weight loss that’s pretty easy, you can just step on the scale and see that you are getting closer to your goal. With other goals it may be a little more ambiguous. If your goal is to stop yelling at your kids, that may be harder to measure. You might need to figure out exactly what you consider yelling and what you don’t, and approximately how many times a day you yell on average, so you can see where you are starting from, and if that number is actually going down and showing some progress towards your goal.
You also want your goals to be attainable. Going back to our initial example of losing weight, you want to pick a goal that is actually possible (and safe) to achieve. In general, most people can safely lose up to 1-2 pounds a week.
Relevant always seemed like a no-brainer to me. Essentially you want to make sure your goal is applicable to your interests, needs, and abilities. Personally I don’t think I would set a goal that I wasn’t interested in, but I suppose it’s intended to keep you from setting a crazy goal that you wish you could do, but really never would because you don’t actually like doing that activity, make sense? For me that would probably be something like hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. It sounds amazing and inspiring, but in the end, that’s just not something I would actually do no matter how much I wish I was the type of person to pick up and do something crazy and awesome like that.
And lastly, your goal should be time-bound, meaning you should have a general end date in mind. I’m going to go back to the goal of losing weight because it’s the easiest goal for me to demonstrate these ideas. I am turning 30 at the end of April, so my goal might be something like this, “lose 10 pounds by my 30th birthday.”
A Few Other Tips
It’s also helpful to include the “why” when you are creating your goal. I’m not going to lie, losing some weight before my 30th birthday is actually one of my current goals, so let’s continue with that example. I might make my goal something like this:
To lose 10 pounds by my 30th birthday (which also happens to be our family trip to Disney world) so I can feel my best about turning 30, and be in tip top shape for all the walking we are going to be doing on our trip.
See all that stuff I just added at the end there? That is all of my motivation right there! It’s everything I need to tap into when I’m tired at the end of a long workout, or feeling tempted by that giant slice of pizza my husband is devouring while I eat my pre-portioned chicken and rice. (You know the feeling, right?!)
I also recommend making smaller goals, or baby steps, within your overall goal. Those smaller goals give you reasons to celebrate along the way to your big goal, which will help keep you motivated!
Now perhaps the most important part, making a plan!
Making a Plan
Now here’s the thing, you can’t just make a big goal and not set yourself a plan for how you are actually going to achieve it. To add onto my previous example, and make my goal even longer, here is my goal (with motivation AND plan).
Lose 10 pounds by my 30th birthday so I can feel my best about turning 30, and be in tip top shape for all the walking we are going to be doing on our trip, by exercising at least 5 days a week and continuing to use my meal plans from Trainer Lindsey’s 6 week fit body challenge.
Now of course these principles apply to goals in any area of your life, not just weight loss! Here is one more personal goal of mine, to show you that the principles are still the same.
Meditate for 10 minutes a day, at least 5 days a week, so I can feel more calm and mindful throughout my day, by setting my alarm 10 minutes earlier and rolling out of bed instead of pressing the snooze button.
Well there you have it, all of my top tips for setting your very best SMART goals for 2017! What are some of your New Years resolutions this year?