Making SMART Goals Work For You



As promised, we’re going to move from taking our New Year’s resolutions from pie in the sky dreams to actual habit change. SMART goals are popular not only in the fitness world but in business too. The SMART goal system is a framework that allows us to work on our behavior change instead of focusing solely on the outcome.

I learned about SMART while studying wellness coaching through the YMCA, and I think it’s a valuable tool, as long as it’s coupled with some other work.

First of all, as described in the first post of my New Year’s Healthy Habits series, it’s important to spend some time thinking about why you want to make a change and if it’s something that you really feel motivated and passionate about tackling. If not, you’re likely going to scrap the whole thing when the going gets tough.

Also, crafting a useful SMART goal requires creating a habit change that is actually a single habit instead of a string of changes that have to be made. A goal of losing 10% body fat might necessitate the following habit changes:

  • tracking food intake
  • creating an exercise plan
  • actually getting to the gym a number of days per week
  • getting more sleep
  • changing the kinds of foods that you buy at the store
  • making a shopping list and menu plan each week to prep
  • learning how to strength train

Holy buckets, that list looks intimidating! No wonder so many people never even make it past the first week. However, each one of those habits is actually a great starting place for a SMART goal when attempting to pursue that larger goal of losing 10% body fat. That’s really the outcome, not the behavioral goal that gets us there. So let’s take one of those and use the SMART concept to make it work even better.

Getting more sleep
This is one that I need to do better at. It’s important to me because I know that a good night’s sleep lowers my stress, improves my performance in my workouts, and helps me eat better all day. Let’s apply SMART.

S- Specific
We don’t want to be vague here. I’m going to get at least 7 hours a night of sleep instead of “I’m going to get more sleep”.

M – Measurable. This is a bit redundant, but I’m setting my measurement at 7 hours per night. 8 would be a gold star for me.

A – Attainable. Is this a doable goal for me? 8 is pushing it, though 7.5 is my sweet spot. I know that 7 is doable if I make it a priority. If it’s not realistic, scale back here and rework the goal.

R – Relevant. Is this really important for my life? If it’s not something that’s actually important to me, I’m not likely to stick with it. For me, it is because it affects the way my body functions and for my life, it’s a biggie.

T – Time frame. Setting a behavior goal for indefinitely can feel like a huge proposition. If I say “I’m going to do this forever” in the back of my head I’m not very confident that that’s the case. But for the next 2 weeks, I can make a commitment to trying this new habit. If I succeed and feel better, I’m more likely to keep it going. If I fail, I can take a step back and reassess what worked and what needs changing.

Try applying these parameters to a habit that you want to implement into your life. You’ll be one step closer to success! Have a SMART goal that you want to share? Leave a comment below!



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