SMART GUIDE TO ACHIEVING YOUR GOALS THIS YEAR
“New Year, New You” starts with a plan
Will 2020 be different from every other year? You may have set resolutions in the past, then grown disappointed when they didn’t pan out.
For resolutions with staying power, you need to make them S.M.A.R.T (smart) by breaking them down into smaller, more achievable goals. Resolutions are often big ideals, like 'I will lose weight' or, 'I will eat well and take better care of myself' - rather than specific goals you set and meet.
These ideals are a great start, but are not effective modifiers for your behaviour – and your behaviour is what makes all the difference in the long run. Anyone can say “I want to lose weight so I can be healthier and gain confidence in myself”, but this ideal has very few indicators of how you actually apply it to life. This usually means you feel motivated for a time, but end up losing steam over the long term.
The smart system helps you incorporate realistic direction in goal setting. They keep you focused and greatly increase your chance of achieving your goals. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely. They are the five steps you can take to create your fitness goals, but also apply to any other goal in your life - and be well on your way to success. Broken down, the steps look like this:
Specific: So it is clear what you are aiming for
Goals that are specific goals describe exactly what you want to achieve. They should be clear and easy to understand. By doing this, it helps you focus and helps you see the goal being achieved. You want to be able to hit your goals, so the more specific the better.
Measurable: So you will know when you have achieved it
Making your goals measurable means adding a number. It needs something to guide you on measuring your progress and to make sure you're on track. To achieve a goal, you need to know that you have achieved it, so set goals that have concrete measurement criteria.
Attainable: Something you are able to do
A smart goal needs to be an attainable goal. Shooting for the stars is fantastic, but don't be too extreme. You want to be motivating and set yourself a challenge of course, so aim high, but make sure the goal is possible for you and that it fits into your existing lifestyle.
Relevant: Something that is practical for you and your circumstances
Before you go and commit your goals to paper, make sure you can do them. Take into consideration your circumstances, available resources and time. Be ambitious, but practical. You don't want to set yourself up for failure.
Timely: So you have a time frame or deadline
A goal needs a start and finish date. Putting a date on your goals gives you a sense of urgency, and creates accountability. It gives you motivation to achieve it, even if you're unsure of what that time frame is.
Those are the five criteria for setting smart goals and giving yourself the best chance of success, but it can be daunting to set goals.
Self doubt 'what if' statements kick in before you've even started - “what if I fail or miss a goal”, “what if I am not motivated enough.'' It is normal to feel overwhelmed when starting out, as goal setting takes a bit of practice. With this in mind, I've got some generic smart fitness goals; short term and long term examples to help get you started.
These are not very personal goals, but general ideas of what a smart year resolution may look like to help get you thinking and on the right path:
- I will lose 7% of my body weight in 3 months by exercising at least 4 times a week
- I will walk enough to burn at least 1300 calories through exercise each week for 6 months
- I will improve my fitness level by running 5kms three days per week until March
You have intention, definitely, but life rolls on and sometimes intention is lost amongst everyday living. There are a great deal of ways you can set yourself up to be able to focus on those goals, the most prominent would be giving yourself more time.
Being able to prioritise your time means more time to focus on achieving what you set out to. Meal prep can be one of those things we all put off because it takes time - My Muscle Chef helps you stay on track to meet your fitness goals. Browse our menu.
Inevitably though, even with more time, you may find you fall short as the year progresses and that's okay. The best thing you can do if you miss a goal is reassess and not give it up.
“The best thing you can do if you miss a goal is reassess and not give it up.“
Perhaps the time frame you set was unrealistic, but you didn't think so at the time. This is easily put right back on track by updating your timeline. Using what you have learned, adjust your goal. There is no need to throw away the work you've put in up until now, but maybe some updates are in order. This is normal and a healthy way to ensure your path to success.
Staying positive about your setbacks will keep you moving forward.
Keeping track of how you're going will also play a part in the long term success of your personal goals. A simple check-in with yourself weekly can give you a push when you need it most because when you track your progress, you can be confident of where you're up to.
Even if that ends up being further behind than you had planned, you're aware and able to make those adjustments to give yourself the best chance at success.
When you have reached your goal, checking in also gives you added opportunity to up the challenge and keep pushing. Smart goals are only as good as your actions – so keep on top of what you're doing to achieve them. Give it a go and make 2020 your best year yet.