Be SMART about your goals. As a coach, I work with a lot of clients with a large variety of goals. Most of them though have a goal of losing weight (body fat). One of the most important aspects, when you embark on a weight loss journey, is to ensure that you have set goals. This is not only important for weight loss, but for any aspect of your life, such as your career.
When setting a goal it is important to set a goal that motivates you and that is really important to you. If your goal is not of interest to you, and you don’t care if you achieve the goal or not, you are less likely to put the effort in to achieve it and you risk losing your focus fairly quickly. So, when you set a goal, make sure you think about why it matters to you and why it is important for you to achieve your goal.
Another very common tool for goal setting is the implementation of the SMART principle. This principle is great to use as it is simple and you can use it for short-term as well as long-term goals.
If you haven’t heard about the SMART principle before, the letters simply refer to Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound.
Specific and Measurable
Specific goals are better than vague and generalised goals. If a goal is vague and generalised, it is really hard to determine when you have achieved it. That is why specific goals are also measurable.
Example 1: I want to lose weight vs. I want to lose 5% body fat.
Example 2: I want to get healthy vs. I want to lower my cholesterol to below 5.5 mmol per litre.
Another thing that’s really important is to have attainable goals, however, they shouldn’t be too easy at the same time. If your goal is not attainable and you have no chance of achieving it you may end up with a lowered self-esteem and confidence. However, if you set goals that are too easy to achieve and you don’t have to put any effort into achieving them, the sense of accomplishment will not be great. So make sure that you set a goal that is challenging, but not too challenging.
Example: I’ve just started running and I’d like to do an ultra marathon in 12 weeks vs. I’ve just a started running and I’d like to run a 10 km race in 12 weeks.
How relevant is your goal to your life? Is your goal aligned with what you want out of life? Is the right time in your life to achieve this goal? Or is it not that relevant? A relevant goal will allow you to keep focused and drive you forward.
The last aspect of the SMART principle is making sure that your goal is time bound. Set a target date when you’d like to have achieved your goal, but make sure that it is attainable and realistic at the same time. Setting a timeframe is important to ensure that you won’t let daily distractions affect your focus.
Another really important aspect when it comes to goal setting is to consider what behavioural changes you can make to help you achieve your SMART goals. Will you need to prepare your meals on a weekly basis to ensure that you hit your macros on a daily basis? Will you need to ensure that you have a water bottle on your desk to ensure that you reach your water intake target? Will you need to set your alarm earlier to ensure that you are able to fit in your training sessions?
Another aspect that I feel is important to consider is attitude goals. Are you willing to make changes in your behaviour and to your lifestyle to achieve your goals? Are you willing to accept that the scale does not define you as a person? Are you willing to work on your relationship with food and exercise? Are you willing to go into every workout and try to be better than last week?
As you may understand, setting goals can be a really important tool for you to stay motivated and be successful in achieving your goals but also to ensure you make behavioural changes to support your efforts. Setting attitude goals is another helpful tool as it will work on your attitude towards your body, food and training.