Let’s talk about setting goals. We have lots of goals in life, don’t we? financial goals. work goals. #squadgoals (whatever this means, I have no idea). But unless you’re a competitive athlete, you probably don’t think much of setting health or fitness goals unless they involve fitting into a special dress in two weeks for your high school reunion or losing your pregnancy weight by the time the baby’s birthday rolls around.
Lots of people set half-goals like ‘They’d like to lose some weight.” or they want to “tone up”, “I want to lose the mummy tummy” but nothing solid and while it’s something they’d like to have happen, they don’t have any great expectation of it actually happening.
Here’s why: They aren’t SMART. (I’m talking about the goals here, not the people!)
You’ve probably heard about SMART goals before, but in case you haven’t, we’re talking about setting health and fitness-related goals that are:
Specific – the goal says exactly what you’re trying to accomplish. There is no confusion or ambiguity.
Measurable – there is an objective way to measure the goal. Whether it’s in inches, pounds, or percentage of body fat, you should be able to verify the difference between your starting and ending points.
Attainable – The goal must be something you can realistically achieve, without being too easy or require drastic measures.
Result–based – The goal is related to results, not activities
Time–Bound – the goal has a deadline of when you’d like to meet it. On that date, because it’s measurable and specific, you’ll be able to confirm whether or not this goal was met.
Here is a good SMART goal:
And just for reference, here are some examples of non-SMART goals:
I want to lose a few pounds by my wedding day.
Ok, but how much weight? This is too vague. By knowing the specific number of pounds that you want to lose, we can safely calculate how long it should take, and what measures need to be taken to accomplish the goal by that date.
I want to lose 30 pounds by next week.
With the exception of having surgery, a severe illness, or a tapeworm, that’s not attainable and it’s definitely not safe! YIKES! By keeping goals realistic, we give ourselves the chance to attain them without resorting to crash diet techniques that we can’t keep up long term. Remember, what you do to lose the weight has to be something that you can keep up for the long haul or else the weight you lose comes right back, plus some.
I want to lose 10 pounds.
By when? Without an end date it’s not a goal, it’s an idea. By setting an end date we can create a weight loss plan that allows for a safe rate of weight loss per week.
Is it enough just to set the goal?
of California recruited 149 participants from all over the world demonstrated that to be successful with our goals we need to take it a couple of steps beyond setting it and jotting it down. (But don’t worry, it’s nothing you can’t handle!)
In the study, the participants were divided into 5 separate groups:
- Group 1 just had to come up with a goal. Then they had to rate it on difficulty, importance, the extent to which they had the skill and resources to accomplish it, how committed and motivated they were to meet the goal, and whether or not they had previously tried to reach this goal, and if so, how successful had they been?
- Group 2 took it a little further by coming up with the goal and rating it (just like Group 1) and also writing their goals down.
- Group 3 had to write down their goal and then write down the actions they would commit to in order to accomplish the goal.
- Group 4 wrote down their goals, the actions they were committed to taking, and then sent the goals and action list to a friend. (Now they’ve got some accountability. Someone knows what they plan to do, so this might keep them on track.)
- Group 5 took it the furthest. They wrote out their goals and actions, and not only did they tell the friend about their plans, but they also had to send them regular progress reports.
Well, that’s serious business.
So what happened?
- Groups 3 – 5 saw the most success in reaching their goals. Those who wrote down their goals were more successful than those who did not. The study concluded that the accountability effect improved the likelihood of achieving the goal.
- Group 5 had the most success because they created an action plan, had an accountability partner, and then monitored their progress regularly to make sure they were on the right track.
How does this translate this to setting health and fitness goals?
- Establish your fitness goal and then whittle it down to make it S.M.A.R.T. (specific, measurable, attainable, results-based, time-based)
- Write it down on a sticky note and keep this paper somewhere you will see it often as a visual reminder of what you’re setting out to accomplish.
- Create an action plan with bite-sized steps of how you can safely get from where you are to where you want to be.
- Share your goal and your plan of action with the 80/20 Online Fitness Challenge FB group. Many of the group’s members have been where you are and can relate to how you’re feeling. Many probably had (or have) the same goal that you do!
Share your weekly progress report with the group for accountability. Let us help you stay on track to smash that goal!
Not part of the free 14-day Online Fitness Challenge yet? Sign up here:
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