As youngsters, sometimes we declared “do over!” while playing if things didn’t work out the way we planned. We were determined to prove we could swing the bat and smack the ball or stay upright on the bike without training wheels.
It was never a one-shot proposition.
It isn’t with fitness, either. If we didn’t quite reach our 2012 fitness goals, we get a do-over on New Year’s Day. Sometimes we never reach our goal, however, because we were never specific on what we hoped to do.
Imagine having car navigation system that simply said “drive down the street” or “turn left and keep going.” With those fuzzy, unspecific instructions, odds are we might never reach our destination. SMART goals – or New Year’s resolutions – clarify specific actions and allow us to measure how well we’re doing.
SMART is an acronym for:
In fitness or business, SMART goals help us stay on track because we can measure whether we’ve moved the needle forward.
Specific goals state exactly what we want to accomplish. “I want to lose weight” isn’t specific. “I want to lose 30 pounds in six months” is more specific.
Measurable goals allow us to our track progress in meeting the goal. “I want to get into better shape” isn’t measurable. But, “I want to lose 40 pounds by September” gives us a benchmark for measurement.
Attainable and Realistic goals pass the “common-sense” test. If you haven’t worked out in years, losing 40 pounds in four weeks isn’t realistic. A more realistic and attainable goal might be, “I will work out for four days a week for one hour over the next three months.” Unrealistic goals set us up for failure. We have to be realistic in assessing what we’re willing to give up in achieving our goal.
Time-bound goals help us lock into a timeframe to accomplish the goal. If we simply state we want to lose 40 pounds, does that mean in a year, in 10 years, or over our lifetime? Time-bound goals state “by when”: “I want to lose 40 pounds by September.” Short-term goals allow us to achieve small-step successes that motivate us to continue. Once we’ve met our short-term goal, we can continue challenging ourselves. ”I want to lose 100 pounds in a year” is too far into the future. A better-stated goal might be, “I want to lose 25 pounds in three months.”
The New Year is a time for us to be reflective and dream about what we hope to achieve. But as businessman and author Harvey Mackay states: “A dream is just a dream. A goal is a dream with a plan and a deadline.” Dreams have the possibility of happening if we see them from a SMART perspective.