Everyone loves a good acronym, well at least I hope you do if you are reading this because using S.M.A.R.T. goals is something I do quite regularly.
When I used to work in our stores and spoke with customers on a daily basis, as well as when I talk to my online clients now, one of the things that is consistently done poorly is setting goals.
The great thing about setting goals is they give you light at the end of the tunnel. They provide you with a pathway to your success and they give your daily activities a purpose as opposed to them feeling like they are being done for no reason.
Think about it this way:
Let's just say you want to lose 30kg and you are willing to do whatever it takes to succeed in losing 30kg yet you don’t necessarily set any specific goals to actually achieve it.
You show up to training with your PT one day and they tell you, without warning, that you were going to be bench pressing 6 sets, dumbbell pressing for another 4 sets, then doing a shoulder circuit, followed by running 500m and pushing a weighted sled for 300m. Now that is a feat for even the fittest of individuals, and it is safe to say once completed (because your PT pushes you) that you are going to be SORE tomorrow and probably for a few days thereafter as well.
- Does the soreness deter you from going back?
- Do you believe that level of intensity is actually necessary?
- Is the pain worth it in the short term?
The answer to those 3 questions realistically should be “I’m not sure.” Now you’re not answering that way because you don’t have the tenacity, commitment or the work ethic to achieve that session once or twice, but instead, you’re just unsure of whether it’s actually necessary.
You don’t know what you don’t know and if we can't plan or set short term goals so that we know what needs to be done to achieve the long-term goal, how can we gauge what is necessary?
How do gauge if we are on target or behind?
How do we gauge if we are working smart or just working hard?
How do we maintain long-term motivation without any short-term goals?
Well, in my opinion, you can’t!
Without goals it’s all just a bit of guesswork and mental toughness, however, if we set SMART goals, we can systematically tick off the smaller tasks as we achieve them, which in turn will then make it easier to achieve the larger task.
If we know that a session like the one above is necessary, the pain is less likely to deter you from achieving your long term goal as you understand it is a part of the bigger picture.
So what are SMART goals?
Essentially when setting goals and using this principle you need to adhere to the guidelines of the acronym to ensure they are achievable. It's also advantageous to set SMART goals for both the larger end point goal and then again for the short term goals you need to achieve regularly in order to get you to your end goal as well and not just the long-term goal.
Using the same scenario as above, instead of just saying “I want to lose 30kg” you would say:
I want to lose 30kg in 18months and I will achieve this by doing 2 sessions every week with my PT and 3 on my own, which will include 4 days of weight training and 1 day of circuit training. I will also adhere to my dietary outlines given to me by my personal trainer as well as doing 2 hours a week of personal research on nutrition so I have a better understanding . In order to make me accountable, I will be blogging my experience on a weekly basis.
- S – The goal of 30kg is specific
- M – It is a measurable goal as it is a weight target
- A – You are accountable due to blogging and using a personal trainer
- R – The goal is realistic
- T – There is a time frame in place for weight loss and education
Understanding your long term goal like this is a great start to understanding what it is you're specifically trying to achieve as a major goal. From there, it is then important for you to break it down into smaller achievable goals so you can start to mentally be aware of what is required monthly, weekly and daily to achieve your 18-month goal.
- On average you must lose 10kg every 6 months…
- Which is 1.66kg every month…
- Which is only 410g per week!
To achieve your training goal you need to complete 360 sessions in 18 months and do 144 hours of research to achieve your reading goal… quite daunting.
Or you can say it's only 5 sessions per week of training and an average of 17minutes of reading per day… much more achievable.
The reality is that all goals, provided that they are realistic, are achievable. Whether we actually do achieve them or not comes down to how internally motivated we are and what our process is to get us there.
Instead of setting large goals without context, break them down into smaller goals and be SMART!