Before you start your health and fitness journey, it is really important to set appropriate goals and come up with a plan. This is an important process not just for fitness goals, but for other areas of your life as well like business, relationships, finances, etc. to edit.
For example, to lose weight, tone, improve how you look and move, it is crucial to know precisely where you are heading and how you plan to achieve this. This will give you direction, purpose, and motivation when you need it the most.
Perhaps you’ve tried to set goals before but they were too vague, or the goals you’ve set for yourself were too easy or far-fetched?
For example, you might have set this goal for yourself:
"I want to lose weight and tone.”
This is a great goal, but have you defined precisely how much weight you want to lose, how are you going to measure toning, and what is the exact time frame?
Interestingly most people tend to set goals only once a year, and that, of course, happens on the New Year’s Eve. According to one study, of all the people who set out goals for the year, only 8% of them actually achieve these goals.
To get the results that you really want and keep them for life, try setting S.M.A.R.T. goals:
S - Specific. You need to be clear what you want to achieve;
M - Measurable. You need to know exactly how you are going to measure progress;
A - Attainable. The goals you set for yourself need to be challenging but attainable;
R - Relevant. Make sure these goals are important to you, and it is something you genuinely want to achieve;
T - Time-bound. Specify the exact date by which you plan to accomplish these goals and then work back to determine what needs to happen in between.
This S.M.A.R.T. model for goal setting has been used for a while now. To make it even better, we can make goals that are also exciting and rewarding to make S.M.A.R.T goals S.M.A.R.T.E.R.!
E - Exciting. Choose goals that you really get excited about.
R - Rewarding. Determine how you will reward yourself for all the hard work you invested in reaching your goals.
You are more likely to follow up with your plan if the goals you set up for yourself excite you and bring you rewards.
EXAMPLES OF S.M.A.R.T.E.R GOALS
You can use a SMARTER model to determine any short-, medium- or long-term goal for any area of your life (e.g., finances, career, etc.). For the purposes of this guide, we will stick only to health and fitness goals.
For example, let’s say that you determined your long-term goal and that is losing weight. To give you clarity and direction, let’s define this goal using the SMARTER principle.
“I want to lose weight.”
“I want to lose weight” is a vague goal. That goal can mean many things. Let’s make it more SPECIFIC:
“I want to lose weight around my waist/stomach area.”
Now that we made this goal specific, we need to figure out how we are going to measure progress (MEASURABLE):
“Using measuring tape, I determined that my current waist circumference is 47 inches. I want to reduce my waist circumference to 35 inches.”
We determined that you want to lose 12 inches off your waist. Now we have to decide whether this goal is ATTAINABLE, realistic and within what time frame we plan to achieve it.
For example, if you have never had waist circumference below 36 inches, then the goal might be too difficult to reach, and you are better of selecting a more realistic goal.
If it had taken you a whole year to get to where you are now, don’t expect that you can reach this goal in 3-6 months. Give yourself enough time to achieve the goal.
Before we select the time frame for this goal, you need to make sure that the goal is relevant and important to you. Is this something that you really want to achieve or is it because someone else wants you to accomplish these goals.
Once you have chosen the goal that is important to you, we need to determine how much time it will take you to reach this goal (TIME-BOUND).
“I want to lose weight around my waist and get 35-inch waist within the next 12 months.”
This time frame seems reasonable since it took you approximately the same amount of time to get where you are now.
Goals that take six months or longer to achieve are classified as long-term goals. It is usually a good idea to break up the long-term goal into chunks and decide on medium-term (3-6 months) and short-term (less than a month) goals.
This is beneficial for various reasons:
So to break your goals into chunks, you can say:
“I want to lose weight around my waist and get 35-inch waist within the next 12 months. To ensure I stay on track and motivated, I will try to lose 6 inches within the next six months or approximately 1 inch every month.”
Now that we have figure out the SMART portion for your goal, we need to ensure that this goal is EXCITING and REWARDING (SMARTER goal).
Does losing 12 inches off your waist excites you? If it doesn’t, adjust your goal to be more exciting, but follow the SMART model.
If the goal does excite you, then great! Imagine how you will feel when you achieve this goal. Describe the exact emotion and how will that affect your life. For example:
“I want to lose weight around my waist and get 35-inch waist within the next 12 months. To ensure I stay on track and motivated, I will try to lose 6 inches within the next six months or approximately 1 inch every month. Once I reach my goals, I will feel amazing, confident and energized.”
And the last step is to figure out how you are going to reward yourself. Make sure to choose something that will get you excited about. In addition to long-term results, you can also select rewards for successfully achieved short-term and medium-term results. For example:
“I want to lose weight around my waist and get 35-inch waist within the next 12 months. To ensure I stay on track and motivated, I will try to lose 6 inches within the next six months or approximately 1 inch every month. Once I reach my goals, I will feel amazing, confident and energized. For every lost inch, I will treat myself with a spa treatment. When I lose all 12 inches, I will book that cruise to the Caribbean that I always wanted to go.”
Now we have a very SMARTER goal! We found an exciting goal that will make us feel great once we reach it. This goal is well defined, attainable, relevant and time-bound. We know how to measure progress, and we made sure to treat ourselves every step of the way.
OTHER "SMARTER" GOAL EXAMPLES
If you can’t relate to this goal, I will provide some other examples that will give you a better idea of how to create your own SMARTER goals:
“I want to run a marathon.”
SMART version of this goal:
“I want to run a sub-4-hour marathon six months from now (SPECIFIC AND TIMEBOUND). I will measure my minute-mile pace with weekly tempo runs to ensure I am making adequate progress (MEASURABLE). I ran a sub-5-hour marathon last year when I was completely out of shape, so I know this it is achievable (ATTAINABLE). I always liked to test my limits so I really want to see if I can do this (RELEVANT). Just thinking about this goal makes me really excited cause I know that I will be so proud of myself and prove it to my colleagues from work that I can really do this (EXCITING). Once I achieve my goal, I will invest in that new pair of running shoes and sign up for that race abroad.”
“I would like to build more muscle.”
A SMARTER version of this goal:
“In the next eight months, I would like to add 4 inches to my arms and 10 Ibs of lean muscle as measured by ultrasound body composition machine (SPECIFIC, TIMEBOUND). Every month I will measure my arm circumference and body composition to ensure I am making good progress (MEASURABLE). Due to my injury history, I lost lots of muscle mass, so I know I can achieve this goal considering I had similar body stats before (ATTAINABLE). I am so excited to start working towards this goal! I know that once I put back all the lost muscle, I will feel strong and confident again (RELEVANT AND EXCITING). In 8 months time when I reach this goal, I will get new clothes to show off my muscular arms (REWARDING). ”
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to let us know! However, if you need help getting started and you need someone who will guide you, we offer personal training in Toronto and online personal training wherever you are in the world. TO Kinesiology can help you lose weight, tone, put on muscle and improve the way you look and move.
P.S. Let us know what your SMARTER goals are! We would love to hear them!
NEM - NEMANJA SAMBAHER
Nem is the owner and head coach at TO Kinesiology. He is a certified Personal Trainer and Registered Kinesiologist with a Master of Science degree in Kinesiology. Nem is a published author with a strong science background with some of his papers appearing in journals like Neuroscience, Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports and Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. He's also been featured for online publications like Stack.com, Running Room, Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism, etc. You can read more about Nem here.
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