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Setting and Achieving Goals – the SMART Way

When it comes to setting goals there are a number of methods that people use. From simply writing your goal on a piece of paper, to merely thinking that you would like to achieve something, everyone sets goals differently. Sadly, many people – while having the very best of intentions – fail to achieve their goals because they fail to plan them properly. But what if there was a way to not only list your goals but plan them in a way the guarantees you will achieve them? And what if I told you that this way of goal setting is used by successful people and businesses the world over? People need goals to direct activity and measure progress. Achieving changes with our health and fitness is no different. Whilst we should all strive to live a healthy lifestyle the goals we set form the stepping stones toward those changes.

The SMART goal setting principle

One thing that all successful people and businesses have in common is their ability to set goals. Everyone who has ever successfully achieved a goal has done so because they have taken the time to plan and prepare their goals, making sure they have the steps in place to be successful every time. So how do they do this? With the SMART principle and the good news is that this principle can be used on all types of goals including health goals.

The SMART principle is easy to use and allows you to really think about your goal and how you will achieve it. Many people often choose a goal, make a start and then fail because they didn’t take the time to figure out what they need to do to make it happen. For example, let’s say you want to lose 10kgs. This is certainly a reasonable and achievable goal but if you go ahead without any thoughts to how you will lose 10kgs, you will inevitably fail. However if you were to decide that you want to lose 10kgs in three months and will do so by making healthy food choices and incorporating both planned and unplanned exercise into you day, you are much more likely to reach and achieve your goal of losing weight.

SMART setting goals

How to use the SMART principle

The SMART principle is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-frame. To be successful and for your goals to be achievable they need to meet all these aspects of the SMART principle. This is far easier than it sounds and by taking a few minutes to sit and think about your goal, you are giving yourself the best possible chance of achieving it. Let’s take a closer look at the SMART principle and how it will help you to be successful.

S is for Specific

This should be the easiest step in your goal setting but it is amazing how many people set vague goals. It is not unusual for instance, for a personal trainer to be told ‘I want to lose some weight’ or ‘I want to get fit’. These goals are to vague and are difficult to achieve because there is no way of knowing when you have achieved them. When setting your goals, try to be as specific as possible. Try a goal such as ‘I want to lose 20kgs’, ‘I want to reduce my waist by 15cms’ or ‘I want to compete in a 5km fun run’.

M is for Measurable

The next step in setting goals is to make sure your goal is measurable. This means you need a way of being able to work out if you have achieved your goal. For instance if your goal is to get fit, how would you measure that and how would you know when you are fit enough? If on the other hand your goal is to run 5km in 30 minutes there are a number of ways to measure this such as how long it takes you to run 5kms or how far you can run in 10 minutes. Making your goals measurable will not only make it easier for you to know that you have achieved them but help you to set and meet targets along the way.

A is for Attainable

Once you know what your goal is and how you will measure your success, you need to think about the steps you will take to achieve it. If your goal is to lose 15kg, the steps you take to achieve this may include exercising 3-4 times a week, switching to low fat dairy food, and limiting take-away to once a week. Make a list of all the things you can do to achieve you goal including things such as getting your exercise clothes ready before you go to bed if you exercise in the morning or cooking healthy meals on the weekend that you can freeze and microwave during the week.

R is for Realistic

The sad reality is that many people fail to achieve their goals because they are unrealistic. Too many of us want results today and it is simply not going to happen. No matter how specific, measurable or attainable you make your goal, if it is unrealistic then you will inevitably fail. Unrealistic goals include losing 10kgs in two weeks, eating only 1000 calories a day, or working out for three hours a day. When you are setting your goal make sure it is something that can be done and that you have control over. A realistic goal could be to lose half to one kilo a week, go to the gym three times a week or to take your lunch from home rather than buy take-away.

T is for Time-frame

The final step in the SMART principle is to make sure you have a time-frame in which you want to achieve your goal. All the planning in the world will not get you anywhere if you don’t have a deadline. Be realistic when you are planning a time-frame for your goal. It is far better to overestimate the time it will take you to achieve your goal and achieve it early than to miss your deadline because you didn’t give yourself enough time. If your goal is to lose 10kg, instead of trying to lose it in 10 weeks, why not set a time-frame of 15 or 20 weeks. This will allow for a few small weight loss weeks but still keep you on track to achieve your goal.

The SMART principle can be applied to any goal you want to set for yourself, from health and fitness to personal or business. By focusing on the five key aspects of SMART you give yourself the best possible opportunity to achieve your goals. Now you know the secret to success, why not give it ago yourself? With a little planning and a SMART approach you could soon find yourself on your list of successful people.

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