How to Set Smart Goals

Goal setting has to be one of my least favorite activities. I know. As a person who loves deadlines and data and quantifiable things, I should love goal setting buuuuut I don’t. I used to struggle with setting goals because I simply didn’t know where to start. Like anything else, practice makes progress. The more goals I set, the easier goal setting becomes. But one thing I always struggle with is deciding where to start so, I ask my self a simple question: what do I want?

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Ok, maybe that question isn’t simple. However, it serves as a great jumping off point for the goal setting process. I usually keep these statements rather vague and big picture like “I want to get strong as eff” or “I want to be a better competitor”. Knowing what I want allows me to then figure out how I am going to get there.

At this point, it’s time to get specific. I like to follow the guidelines of setting SMART goals at this point. What are SMART goals? They are goals that are:

 

Specific: Exactly what do I want to accomplish?

Measurable: How can my accomplishments and progress be measured?

Attainable: Are these things that I can actually achieve within my given constraints?

Realistic/Relevant: Does this item align with what I want?

Time-Bound: What date will I accomplish this by?

 

For example, if you want to increase your squat, your goals may look something like this:

Big picture goal: I want to be the strongest version of myself.

How am I going to get there? By squatting my face off, recovering properly, eating enough to train hard, and following a smart program.

S: I want to increase my squat.

M:I want to increase my squat by 50lbs to 250lbs. I will record my training each session.

A: My given constraints are that I train 4 times a week, work, and have life obligations. I believe that I can achieve this goal within those constraints.

R: Yes, this goal aligns with my big picture.

T: I want to accomplish this by Dec 31, 2016.

 

Each step flows from the previous one - figuring out what your constraints are informs your decision about how realistic and relevant your goal is and what time domain you want to assign to said goal. Adding 50lbs to your squat in a year is doable...adding that in 8 weeks? Not so much.

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You can even take it a step further and ask yourself:

What can I do each month/each week/each day to make progress towards my goal?

It could be something as simple as committing to at-home mobility work twice a week or making sure you drink enough water each day. Perfection is not the name of the game - consistency is. You’re going to have a day when you don’t hydrate well and there are going to be weeks when you can’t squeeze in 20 minutes of foam rolling. And that’s okay. But having a plan and a road map is better than having no plan at all.

So what happens after you make your goals, you start working towards them, and everything is going great until...it isn’t? Maybe there is an injury or an unforeseen setback or life just gets super busy - what do you do?

You adjust.

Hopefully, you’re tracking your progress in a meaningful way because if you are, then you’re able to look at the information (data) and adjust accordingly. Adjusting your goal does not mean you fail. Not reaching your goal by your set time does not mean you fail. It provides a learning opportunity for you to look back and identify what could have impeded your progress and attainment of that goal.

Goal setting should be an exercise in motivation, commitment, and dreaming big. It should not cause massive heartache and disappointment. Of course, it doesn’t feel very good to not meet a goal but viewing it as a learning and evaluation opportunity will be a thousand times more helpful than wallowing in sadness.

 

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