One of the most tried and true methods for getting focused, staying motivated and achieving your goals is the S.M.A.R.T. formula. If you search the Internet for SMART goals, you’ll probably find a dozen different variations on the SMART goal acronym. Here’s my version of SMART goals, along with two extra steps to make them even SMART-ER.
The S.M.A.R.T.E.R. goals formula
- Specific. Set your goals with clarity. Your mind does not respond well to vague generalities. If you say your goal is to lose weight and you lose one pound, then you’ve reached your goal. Is that what you really wanted? Be clear, precise, and specific.
- Measurable. Set goals that can be quantified in measurable units such as pounds, kilos, body fat percentage, lean body mass, inches and clothing sizes. Performance goals can include strength (lbs or kilos lifted) and repetitions completed. Don’t forget to include health goals as well, such as blood pressure and blood lipids.
- Accountable. Set goals for which you can be held accountable. First, be accountable to yourself by using a scale, body fat caliper, tape measure, weekly progress chart, a daily nutrition diary and a training journal. Then double your motivation with external accountability and submit your results and journals to someone else who will hold you to your commitments.
- Realistic. Set goals that are attainable and maintainable. If you lose two pounds of fat per week, you are doing awesome. Losing 30 pounds in 30 days sounds great in advertisements, but it’s not typical (not even likely. Rapid weight loss usually consists of muscle and water, not fat, and is nearly impossible to keep off.
- Time-bound. Set goals with deadlines. Time limits are highly motivating. With no time limit, there is no urgency for completion. Set goals for daily workouts and nutrition, weekly weight and body composition and 12 week changes in weight, body fat or measurements. Set long term goals as well for time periods of one year, five years and even beyond. For all time periods, be certain your deadline is realistic.Now we add some motivational ooompf by making your goals even SMART-ER!
- Emotional. Goals give you a direction, but strong emotions are part of the propulsion system that drives you in that direction. Build up a burning desire by focusing on the emotional reasons why you want to achieve your goal. Connect your goals to your values. What’s most important to you about reaching your goal? If you reach 9% body fat, or another target, what will that do for you? What will your life look like then? How will it make you feel?
- Repetition. Resolutions fail because they are casually set once at the beginning of the year and easily forgotten. Stay laser-focused by writing and reading your goals every day. Repetition is one of the keys to reprogramming your mental computer for success. Use the goal card technique. Write your single most important body or fitness goal on a small card and carry it with you everywhere you go, reading it several times a day.
Setting S.M.A.R.T.E.R. goals is a simple, memorable formula for setting and getting your goals. Methods and tactics may change, but scientific principles of success never change. Don’t forget to make your goals even smarter by adding the Emotion and Repetition steps in your goal setting process. A goal that’s not strongly desired and kept in front of you every day will be forgotten. Stay focused, eat right, train hard and expect success!
A goal that is casually set and lightly taken will be freely abandoned at the first obstacle.
– Zig Ziglar, Motivational Speaker
© 2014 Tom Venuto, author of Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle: Transform Your Body Forever Using the Secrets of the Leanest People in the World
What health goals are you working on?