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SMART Goals

A great way to set effective goals is to use the acronym SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. You can use these tools to guide your goal selection and set yourself up for success. 

One of the biggest challenges people face when setting a goal, is to select a goal that is appropriate for their level and is specific. Goal selection is crucial for starting a fitness journey because it provides guidance and gives you something to work towards. Many people approach fitness with vague goals like “I want to get into better shape”. If a goal is too vague, you lose the beneficial aspects of pursuing a specific goal. 

Specific

Your goal should be clear and well defined. If you have a vague goal to get in shape, then you can improve it by setting a process goal to workout 3x a week or to set an outcome goal of running a 7 minute mile. 

Measurable 

You should have a quantifiable way of tracking your progress and determining completion. A good example is to run a 7 minute mile. When your goal is less quantifiable, like learning yoga, then days of practice per week is a good option. 

Attainable

Many people set over-ambitious goals and set themselves up for failure. It may not be realistic for somebody to lose 50 lbs or to run a 5k in 15 minutes. To set attainable goals, you need to give yourself a reality check. 

Relevant

Here is where you think about the big picture. How does your goal relate to the big picture. If your main interests are getting stronger, then it might will be counterproductive to focus on long distance running, or high reps with weightlifting. 

Timely

A great way to make sure you are making progress is to set a timeline. After you choose an effective goal, give yourself a due date. This gives you a benchmark for either successfully achieving your goal, or an opportunity to adjust and reset your goal.   

You can expand the SMART acronym by using SMARTER, where you add Evaluate and Readjust


Evaluate

This describes a check-in of your long term goals (more than 3 months). This can be measuring your progress towards an intermediate goal or changing your strategy if you’re not on track. Evaluating is important because it keeps you aware of your current status.

Readjust

Oftentimes people may notice they hit a plateau. If you're weightlifting but not gaining strength, you may want to adjust your program. If you achieve your intermediate goal, you can use the R to “Reset” and start working towards the next intermediate goal. 

The SMARTER acronym is a great way to guide your goal selection. However, goal selection is only one part of the nuanced process of goal setting. [Here is another article elaborating on the goal setting process]

"The great danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark." –Michelangelo


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