S.M.A.R.T. goal setting can help improve wellbeing
Feb. 5, 2018 at 7 p.m.
Updated Feb. 5, 2018 at 7:07 p.m.
With the arrival of the new year, many of us are setting new goals. Whether you want to lose weight, get healthier or feel better, exercise may be an activity you want to start doing this year.
Before you get started, though, it's important to step back and evaluate exactly what you want to achieve and how you plan to get there.
Setting and achieving fitness goals is rewarding and can keep you motivated and moving in the right direction. An effective approach to setting goals is to use the S.M.A.R.T. method, which stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound.
This method allows you to set challenging yet realistic goals that are meaningful for you. While I use this method to help my clients set fitness goals, you can apply it in any goal-setting situation.
Let's go over the five aspects of a S.M.A.R.T. goal.
Specific. Specificity is the first factor to consider when setting initial fitness goals. Make sure that your goal is clear and easy to understand. An ambiguous goal will lead to an overall fitness plan that is unfocused and lacking direction, which can lead you off course.
Many times, people who are beginning an exercise program for the first time will set goals such as "getting healthy" or "being more active." Instead, shoot for goals with a more specific outcome, such as "lose weight" or "run a 5K."
Measurable. The second step in this process is to make sure your goal is measurable. Adding a numerical value to your goal will allow you to track your progress over time. For example, if your goal is to lose weight, adding a value of 20 pounds will let you monitor your progress. Seeing quantifiable progress toward a fitness goal will keep you motivated to stick to your workout regimen.
Attainable. Another important factor is to establish goals that are attainable. Setting the bar too high can make reaching your goals feel impossible, which may make you give up altogether. An effective strategy to combat this is to set a goal that is challenging yet realistic.
A goal that has a 50 percent chance of success is attainable but will also keep you working hard toward achieving it.
Relevant. Goals should be relevant to you. We are more inclined to work hard when something is important and intrinsically motivating to us. Remember, this is your goal. You have to want to achieve it.
Time-bound. The last step in setting your goal is to make sure it is time-bound. A goal that has a finish line - a timeframe for completion - will drive you to reach it. When setting a long-term goal, a simple strategy is to create a plan that has benchmarks, or short-term goals. Achieving these smaller targets will eventually lead you to reach or even surpass your overall goal. For example, if you want to lose 10 pounds in six weeks, set a short- term weight loss target of two pounds per week. Meeting these smaller targets will eventually add up to your long-term goal.
Setting goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound will help you keep track of your progress and keep you motivated along the way. S.M.A.R.T. goal setting is a continuous process. Remember to keep setting goals to better yourself. Challenge yourself and, most importantly, have fun while you do it!
Josh Laudig is a certified strength and conditioning specialists and National Strength and Conditioning Association - Certified Personal Trainer. He is a fitness coordinator at Texas A&M Coastal Bend Health Education Center.