Chances are that you already know that getting healthy and losing weight are among the most common resolutions people set for themselves every new year. If you’re one of these people, you might also know that these are the same resolutions many people have given up on.
If you have ever wondered why it is so difficult to stick to fitness goals when so many of us are inspired to get fit, then let us tell you that the problem lies with how we set fitness goals.
Most of us who fail to achieve this goal, do so because we obsess over the destination without creating a solid plan leading to it. While knowing one’s destination is critical for mapping out the journey, the path one chooses to get to it is equally important. The same saying applies to when we’re setting goals.
The SMART way to set a goal is to make it Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. The SMART method can be of paramount help as it breaks down the process of setting fitness goals in a way that helps pave the path. Let’s take a closer look at each of the five steps of the SMART method to see how they can help you achieve your fitness goals.
1. Make Your Goal Specific
Setting a specific fitness goal is the key to sticking to it. Fitness goal such as “losing weight” is too general, so is the goal of ”getting healthy”. There are multiple routes that lead to those goals.
How much weight is it that you want to lose? Or what is your definition of healthy and how are you looking forward to realizing it? The term “healthy” can mean different things to different people.
Some might interpret it as “getting stronger,” some might interpret it as “improving body composition,” and some others might interpret it as “increasing their endurance.” The goal of “getting healthy” doesn’t tell in what way do you want to feel healthy. The vagueness of these goals makes them confusing, which makes it difficult for people to stick to them.
Specific goals, on the other hand, look something like “I want to lose 20 pounds of my weight” or “I want my body fat percentage to be 16%.“ You can see how they are different from the general destination. They state what it is that you specifically want, and they can direct you to the right path to reach your destination.
The point of adding specificity is to make the goal clear. Make your general goal clear by narrowing it down and detailing what it is that you want to achieve.
2. Make Your Goal Measurable
To stay motivated to achieve your goal, you need to be able to see your progress toward it. To be able to see your progress, you need to make your goals measurable.
The above-mentioned fitness goal, for example, “I want to lose 20 pounds,” is a measurable goal since you can easily keep track of how much weight you lose through a weighing scale.
If you keep it as a general goal such as “I want to lose weight,” then while you can still measure the weight you lose, you’ll never know if you’ve achieved what you really wanted.
Similarly, the goal “I want my body fat percentage to be 16%” can be measured by using a body fat measuring device, such as a skinfold caliper.
3. Set an Attainable Goal
Besides being specific and measurable, a fitness goal should be attainable as well. Sometimes our expectations with our fitness goals can be unrealistic.
If one sets goals that are impossible to achieve, they are deliberately setting themselves up for failure. The failure can also hold them back from putting in the effort to achieve the goal.
Big goals are more difficult to achieve than smaller goals. It doesn’t mean that they should not set long-term fitness goals. It just means that big goals may take longer to achieve, while smaller goals may take less time to achieve.
Sometimes, when you set a goal, it’s not the goal itself that isn’t attainable, but the timeframe set to achieve that goal that’s unrealistic. For example, while “losing 20 pounds” is a realistic goal to achieve in 3-4 months, it is not attainable in 1 week.
If you set unattainable fitness goals, you set yourself up for disappointment, and you are more likely to lose motivation instead of being eager to pursue your goals. To set an achievable fitness goal, factor in the time it will take to achieve, along with your existing physical condition and resources.
4. Set a Relevant Goal
Your fitness goals should be relevant to you, meaning they should contribute to your life in a way that makes it better and fits the bigger picture of what you want your life to be like. You’re much more likely to stick to a fitness goal if it brings you closer to your bigger health and lifestyle goals.
Your fitness goal should not add to your health issues or become a bottleneck. A fitness goal that becomes an inconvenience or doesn’t align with your bigger goals is easier to give up on. The point of setting fitness goals is to improve your quality of life. Anything that has the opposite effect is not relevant or even worth it.
5. Make Your Goal Time-Bound
Deadlines can play the role of motivators. Setting a realistic deadline will help you focus on your goal as you will only have a limited time to achieve that goal. When setting a time-bound fitness goal for yourself, be sure to set an attainable yet challenging deadline.
For example, the goal “I want to lose 20 pounds” becomes time-bound by making it “I want to lose 20 pounds in 4 months.” Similarly, the goal “I want my body fat percentage to be 16% after 6 months” is a time-bound fitness goal.
Setting a specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound fitness goal can help you plan an action course to achieve it. You can plan the journey that you will take over the course of the given timeline and break the goal down into smaller milestones throughout the path. Achieving these milestones will help you stay motivated in your journey towards the bigger goal.
When you set fitness goals SMART-ly, they become both realistic and achievable. This method works for both long- and short-term fitness goals.
You can start setting your fitness goals by setting a long-term goal and then break it down into several short-term goals. Or you can start with a short-term goal and set more challenging goals after you’ve reached your previous goals. Either way, apply the SMART method when you set your fitness goals.