There are different reasons to exercise, and we all have our personal health and fitness goals to achieve. To make sure we are successful at achieving these goals as efficiently as possible, it is important that we take some time to think about them and structure them properly.
It is easy to say that ‘I want to lose X amount of weight by the time I go on holiday in three months’. But have we taken a moment to think about what that goal looks like? Is it healthy to lose that amount of weight in three months? How is it going to be achieved? Is it possible to do so?
How are we going to feel if we don’t achieve that target weight loss by the time our holiday comes around? The answers to these questions can often be negative. We need to give ourselves as much help as possible along our health and fitness journey. SMART goal setting helps us provide the structure needed to set realistic goals and to give us a much greater chance of success.
SMART goal setting:
S – Specific
Having a clear view of exactly what you would like to achieve is the first step in enabling you to plan what you need to do to reach your goal. For example, if your goal is weight loss or weight gain you need to establish how much you would like to lose/gain, which will allow you to recognise when you have successfully completed your goal.
M – Measurable
The goal you have set will need to be measurable for you to track your progress. This is essential as it will show you how you are progressing towards achieving your goal and just as importantly if you aren’t. You can then make the necessary adjustments required to get yourself back on track. You will need to identify a way of measuring your progress before you begin and make sure you keep a log.
A – Achievable
When setting any goal, it is vital to make sure they are possible to achieve. Setting yourself a goal that is too difficult may result in negative feelings towards yourself if you can’t complete what you have set out to accomplish, which will increase your chance of giving up completely.
By setting yourself a long-term goal, you outline what you want to work towards. To help move towards the end goal try also setting smaller goals that lead gradually towards what you are focussing on achieving. These smaller goals will help you keep on track, and on each completion will help you feel a sense of victory and positivity, which will motivate you further to continue your journey.
R – Realistic
To set a realistic goal it is important to look at each aspect of your day to day life during the time period you have given yourself for completion of your end goal. If during this period, you know you only have limited time available to work towards your goal it wouldn’t make sense to set a goal that would require a vast amount of time and dedication. For example, if you challenge yourself to run a marathon in 3 months, but you’re a beginner and can only dedicate three hours a week to train, you aren’t going to be able to commit enough time to training and therefore the goal is unrealistic. A more realistic goal would be to run a 5k in three months and then re-evaluate your circumstances and then move forward if you can. You can still have a future goal of running a marathon in mind but realise that at this given time it’s unrealistic and you will need some smaller more realistic goals to start your journey with.
T – Time
The goal you set will need to have a time scale. Setting a time for completion will give you added motivation and allow you to plan how you are going to achieve your goal efficiently. From here you can break the time down into smaller sections and state what will be done in each stage to help you towards your goal. First set a time for the completion of your long-term goal, followed by shorter time scales leading up to the completion of your short-term goals.
It is now your turn to create a fitness related SMART goal. Think about what you would like to achieve and use the SMART template to outline how you are going to achieve it.
Specific – outline the goal and think about exactly what you would like to achieve.
Measurable – is it possible to measure the progress you are making towards your goal, and if so, how? How will you be able to identify when have completed your goal?
Achievable – what makes this goal achievable? What steps will you put in place to achieve this goal?
Realistic – outline why the goal is realistic for you and why? Are their any barriers that could prove difficult?
Time – set the time scale that you would like to achieve your goal and a reason why. Remember to outline the smaller goals and their time scale to help keep you on track.