Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Set SMART Goals


We've talked about writing goals before, but with the New Year upon us, let's talk about how to best go about setting these goals.

In order to make your dreams a reality, your goals should be...

S.M.A.R.T.  Goals are...
  • Specific.  Figure out exactly what you want to accomplish and a path for getting there.  Think about who is involved, when you can work towards it, where you might go for support, and why you want to achieve this goal.  
    • Avoid vague ideas like "get in shape," "eat better," "get more sleep," or "save more money."  Instead,  be specific.  If you'd like to get in shape, commit to hitting the gym 3 times a week.  If you'd like to eat more healthfully, vow to eat at least 6 servings of fruits and vegetables each day, and have a journal to record it or check off each serving.  
  • Measurable. Your goal should be measurable so you can track your progress, see how far you have left to go, and be 100% sure when you've achieved it.  Your goal should answer quantitative questions, such as "how much," "how many," or "how often." This way, you'll know when you've done it! 
    • Again, want to get in shape?  Count your hours at the gym.
    • If you're committing to running like I am, you can log your miles, aiming for a certain amount each week or month.  To do this, I joined Dailymile.  A journal or word doc will do, too.
  • Attainable.  Are there steps to take that will lead toward this goal?  Is it something you can change, with the right motivation and tools?  Do you have that motivation and those tools?  If you need support from certain others in your life, are they willing to provide it?  Do you have the proper attitude toward your goal to make it happen?
  • Realistic.  Simply stated, is your goal realistic?  This isn't about setting your sights too high or too low.  Don't use this as an excuse to set some easy resolutions.  Just take the time to reflect on if this is actually something you are physically capable of doing, if you set your mind to it, in the designated time frame.
  • Timed.  How long will you give yourself to reach your goal?  It's important to select a time frame, or else you can always put your goal off until "later" or "someday." Be sure that your time frame is also realistic.  "I will lose 20 pounds in 2 weeks" is not realistic.  Going to the gym on a daily basis might be realistic for some, but unrealistic for others, depending on the individual's schedule. 
    • If you have a fitness-related goal like me--such as running--take the steps to commit yourself to a deadline by signing up for a race, or a long-term challenge, like I did.  This can work for non-fitness resolutions, too. Maybe you want to clean out your home by the year's end, so schedule a garage sale for a certain month, tell family and friends to donate their own items, and commit to having everything ready to go by that date.
For Example...
To keep with the obvious theme of my own goals so far: RUNNING.  I'll use myself as an example here.  General goal: "Become a runner." Specifically: Get comfortable running 3 miles continuously, in under 10 minutes each. Run a few times each week.  Measure it using my Garmin GPS sportswatch , and track total miles on DailyMile, aiming for 600 miles in 2012. Attainable? Yes, that's under 2 miles per day, or a couple 5ks each week. I just bought new shoes to keep me injury-free. I have friends and family supportive of my running goals. Realistic?  Sure. I can already run a mile and a half comfortably, and have run 3 miles in under 30 minutes a few times now, with effort.  I don't run these distances regularly now, but I could make the time and switch up my workout routine to make it happen.  Timely? Yes.  Although running is a long-term goal, to keep up for years to come (I hope!), I want to log those 600 miles by the year's end.  I can also aim to achieve 50 miles each month. Numbers make it easy.

By using the "SMART" framework, I know that my goal is challenging, yet realistic, and easily measurable so I'll know if I'm falling short or succeeding.

        A clever re-working of the above tips is found in 9 Tips for Sabotaging your New Year's Fitness and Weight-Loss Goals.

        Want to commit to a new habit to be performed daily?  Read lessons and ideas for a "streak" resolution: "Working out every day", or whatever else!

        Whatever your resolution or goal may be, here are 14 quick tips to get "insanely" motivated.

        For a well-organized journal for tracking both fitness and eating habits, get a Fitbook.  It helps you record cardio, weight training, hydration, food consumption, nutrient intake, and also provides GREAT pages each week for goal-setting and planning.

SO!  Think about your goals, what you'd like to achieve in the new year.  What do you wish to accomplish in the coming weeks, months, or year?  Are your goals SMART?  What tweaks can you make to make them SMART?  Think about it, write it down, and share.  I dare you. 


  1. I love these. Thanks for sharing!!

  2. I am really good at setting goals but not so much at following through. I always over-shoot. These are great tips for setting attainable goals! I have been meaning to join daily mile -- maybe for 2012 since it also keeps track of miles for the year!

  3. I totally wrote a post similar to this today! Which must mean we are both awesome!! I totally agree with you on all of it! Daily mile is great although I have forgotten to log things the past two weeks!

  4. I'm a teacher and we actually started to use SMART goals in our school district to create professional goals for ourselves this year. I never thought of applying it to fitness but it totally makes sense!


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