When I was a kid, I had a vision. I could see the me of the future. I would be thinner, more outgoing, involved in fun activities, and radiating happiness. I had three older cousins who I truly admired. They were cool and their lives seemed so interesting. I remember thinking in my 10-year-old head that life was going to just fall into place and make so much sense once I turned 18 like them. Of course, I know now that having it “together” at 18 is utterly ridiculous, but I just knew I would have gotten over my debilitating shyness and severe introversion, I’d have lost the weight that had already become such a burden and handicap, and most of all, I’d be happy.
On and on the years eased by and I arrived at year 18. And, guess what??? I did not (Surprise, surprise!) have it “together”. I was still painfully shy and hadn’t made a new friend in years. I’d missed out on a ton of experiences due to my extremely self conscious nature and self-effacing tendencies. I was still shopping in the plus-sized department (which back then was painfully lacking for young girls) with no realistic concept of nutrition, exercise, and making better lifestyle choices. And, most importantly, I was miserable. M-I-S-E-R-A-B-L-E.
Oh, I had plenty of vision. I could see myself enjoying life. I was sure the transformed me would signup for cool activities like Powder Puff Football or SGA, but ultimately I just
wanted to feel comfortable in my own skin. I had no idea that I was missing the one critical piece of the puzzle that would help propel me in the direction of my goals: A plan. I needed something concrete to help bring my vision into fruition.
Seems simple enough, right? Of course you need a goal and obviously you need a plan but you’d be surprised at how many of us neglect this crucial part of the process. You’ve heard the old adage, “Failure to plan, is a plan to fail” and this, my friends, is nothing but the truth.
You may have a vision surrounding your health and fitness ideals. You may have a general idea about what you’d like to see happen. But perhaps like most of us when attempting to get from Start to Finish, you’re directionally challenged need a roadmap to help get you there. Insert SMART effective goals here.
SMART goals are:
Specific: Your goals should be so explicit that the end product is crystal clear to anyone reading your intents and purposes. Write out your goals and provide as many fine details as possible including what you’d like to see happen, what you intend to do to ensure you get there, and by when you’d like to see things in place.
Measurable: Find a way to assign quantitative value to your goals. Instead of saying, “I want to be more active” try to reframe that by saying, “I will go to gym at least three times per week.” Do you see how that makes things a easier? It’s specific and provides guidelines to ascertain whether or not you’re making the desired progress.
Attainable: Whatever goal you set, you must feel both confident in your ability to obtain that goal and challenged through the process of getting there. The goal is to feel like you’re reaching beyond your comfort zone, but at the same time there has to be some sense that your aspirations are within reach. We want to be motivated to really work within the realm of what we truly believe we’re capable.
Realistic: Realistic goals are very closely related to attainable goal, but here the focus is more on whether or not your goal is actually possible. Over time, I’ve meet countless people who want to lose 20+ pounds in a month’s time. Really, y’all, unless you’re on some old school Biggest Loser kind of regimen (No! No! No! Don’t do that!) it’s not happening. To some extent, your personal trainer, health coach, nutritionist, etc. should be able to provide you with some feedback about how realistic your goals are for your starting point.
Timely: Now that you’ve got the details all mapped out, it’s time to stamp a due date on your product. A timeframe creates a sense of urgency and helps us remain focused. Remember, every component of the goal-setting process works together and timeliness is placed in context of how realistic and attainable the outlined goal is. For example, if you’re working to complete your first marathon and you’ve never trained past a 10k, then reasonably, you’re looking at an 18+ week plan and date of completion.
SMART goals are a great way to get to the next level with just about anything. Ten-year-old me was stuck in the mind frame that time would take care of itself. Unfortunately , this is not how things work. You and I both are active agents in creating the life we’d like to live. We just have to have a clear vision and take action to align our habits with the objective.
SMARTer goals work across the board. We’re addressing them in terms of health and fitness today because that’s my jam. Remember, you are not helpless and there is no need to wait for the perfect time to get moving towards your goals. Take baby steps today towards the you of tomorrow.
How can you make your goals SMARTer today?