A goal undefined is simply a wish.
How many times have you said “I want to lose some weight” or “I should work out more often” and thought of that as a goal? Oftentimes goals go unachieved because they are not defined. In order to achieve our goals we need to identify them, define them and truly own them. When working with clients to set goals, I use the S.M.A.R.T. template.
S=Specific. It is not enough to say “I am going to workout and get healthy.” What are you going to do to “workout” and “be healthy?” Making your goal specific forces you to hold yourself accountable to something defined. Try “I am going to walk at an aerobically challenging pace” instead.
M=Measurable. Usually our long term goals could be broken up into smaller, more measurable pieces. Using our more specific example “I am going to walk at an aerobically challenging pace.” Let’s now make it measurable: “I am going to walk for 1 mile in under 20 minutes 3x/week.”
A=Attainable. For whatever reason, we often feel like we need to take on the world when we are setting goals for ourselves, but usually this thinking backfires. If goals are too lofty and unachievable, we become discouraged and give up on our goals completely. By identifying goals that are important to us, we are more inclined to work towards them and find ways to achieve them.
R=Realistic. This point is similar to Attainable; however, Realistic in this case means “do-able.” We need to make sure our goals are do-able. For instance, you wouldn’t write your initial goal as “Walk 3 miles in under 20 minutes 7x/week.” You need to identify a realistic starting point for you, but not one that is too easy either. Set the bar too high, and you are bound for failure, but set the bar too low, and you aren’t challenging yourself enough.
T=Timely. The last step-set a time frame for your goal. If you don’t set a time, your goal is too vague. “I am going to walk 1 mile in under 20 minutes 3x/week until Labor Day.”
Setting a SMART goal will start you out on the right foot towards achieving your health and wellness goals. Feel free to post your goals here if you want feedback or help writing your goals!