So, I recently took a trip to Charlotte, North Carolina to see a dear friend who inspires me and has been in the fitness industry for over 12 years. I came back feeling REALLY motivated to get my Personal Training Certification and truly begin my career transition to the health and fitness world. I’ve suffered setbacks before, mainly because I start projects and don’t finish them.
How many times has that happened to you? Way too many to count, I bet. The New York Times recently published this little tidbit for those of you, like me, who start projects and bail on them when you run out of motivation. Thinking I can start a business for $200 and then realizing it might actually take $600 forces me to take one step back and say “is this really right for me?”
The answer might be a resounding “Yes, Les, I’m ready for the next exciting chapter in my life.” Fantastic. Now, what does that success look like? For some, it might be losing a little bit of weight, putting up some numbers in the gym, or simply being more cognizant of what you’re eating. Whatever that looks like, you need a plan.
SMART Goals is a formula that is great for making sure you have an achievement that is realistic and tangible. With the New Year coming up, lots of people will be in the gym again, and by January 15, the normal crowd, minus a few truly dedicated to their mission, will remain. Having a SMART Goal is a great way to be one of the few remaining on January 15th.
SMART Goals contain 5 elements: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time. By framing your goal in this way, you’re more likely to stick with the plan you’ve made for yourself and succeed.
Being specific about your achievement and visualizing the result is truly motivating. Let’s take losing weight for instance. What does losing those few pounds look like? How does it make you feel?
Confident? Excited? Energetic?
Instead of saying “I want to get fit this year”, start to narrow it down. It should be “I want to lose weight.”
Now you can attach a number or indicator of success to your goal. Keeping track of your goal is crucial for staying motivated. By adding a number or other indicator to your goal, you now have a tangible outcome that you can feel good about when you achieve it. You can track this goal creatively, using a gauge, counter, or other creation of yours.
Let’s modify. Add a number to your specific goal: “I want to lose 15 pounds” or “I want to reduce my body fat percentage by 10%”.
In this step, we’re going to do the planning part of your goal. This is the point where you break down your goal into manageable steps. If your goal is to lose weight, then you’ll break it down into working out and eating healthier. From these categories, you’ll break them down further.
For instance, to lose weight, you want to start eating healthier. You might start with replacing just your snacks with healthy alternatives. If you normally snack on pretzels or chips in the afternoon, try an apple and cheese stick or almonds. Once you’ve replaced your snacks, you might try drinking more water (aim for that 64oz a day! More on this later.)
Having these little steps helps you set mini-goals that make your big goal seem less overwhelming.
There’s no real modification to the goal here, but here I ask a big question: how confident do you feel achieving your goal? Do you feel you are willing and able to complete your task? If your goal motivates you more than it scares you, you’re on the right path.
If you don’t feel that you’re in a position to achieve your goal, then modify it again so that it matches your current skills and willingness.
This is the last step in modifying your goal. Attaching a time frame to your goal gives you a sense of urgency and a due date. Select a time frame that is similar to projects you’ve completed at work, or in your personal life, so that completing your goal best matches your current skills, abilities, and willingness to complete your goal.
Let’s add the time frame: “I want to lose 10 pounds by April 1st by replacing my snacks with healthy alternatives and going to the gym 3 days per week.”
“Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection, we can achieve excellence.” – Vince Lombardi
While it’s true that we’ll never be perfect, even when achieving our goals, we can control how we react to our current situation and change it by remaining positive and working towards a milestone that is meaningful. For many of us, building our abilities and self-esteem is something meaningful and valuable because it enables us to help others or be more capable of raising a family, being more productive at work, and living a more fulfilling life.
By setting these goals, you’re taking that first step in creating a life full of meaning and fulfillment. You can modify your goals as you progress and grow into your new self.
Using this as a guide for your goals and doing a little extra planning will go a long way in becoming successful at whatever you want. And remember — write down your goals so that you see them EVERY DAY.