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The odds are good that you have at least heard of the SMART goal setting system. Even most people who dislike self-help acronyms tend to admit that SMART goals are a pretty useful tool for completing projects and organizing teams. But what does goal-setting look like in the world of fitness? Let’s take a closer look at the attributes that make a goal specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound.
S stands for specific
Failure to be specific is a common issue for many beginners. If you have ever set a New Year’s resolution to “get in shape,” you probably know exactly what we are talking about. Deciding that you want to lose two pounds a month, that you want to bench two hundred pounds by your birthday, or that you want to run a fifteen minute 5K are all more effective examples of goal setting than something as generic as “get in shape” ever could be.
M stands for measurable
Do you have any way of evaluating your progress as you pursue the goals that you set for yourself? The goal of losing two pounds a month is probably the most measurable of all these examples we used in the last section. If you were striving to reach a two hundred pound bench press or a fifteen minute 5K, it would be wise to establish a few checkpoints or milestones that you aim to reach along the way. For example, you might try to shave thirty seconds off your 5K time every month, or you might aim to add five pounds to your max bench every week. This way, you can acknowledge and reward your success, and understand your shortcomings in order to perform better in the future.
A stands for achievable
In order to understand how achievable your goals are, it is important to first understand yourself. Taking an honest look at your past performance history and your motivation level is a good place to start. However, you may also wish to speak with a doctor or healthcare provider. Seeking medical advice is especially important if the goals you are setting for yourself are extremely challenging, or if you suffer from any health conditions. Not everyone is ready to begin training for a 15-minute 5K, for example.
R stands for relevant
Why does the goal you chose to set matter to you? There are many ways to pursue a healthy lifestyle, so you should consider your reasons for settling with the particular goal you decided on. Selecting a goal that you can be truly passionate about will do more than simply make your exercises more enjoyable – it will also greatly increase your odds of actually following through with the plans you make for yourself.
T stands for time-bound
Deadlines are important because they provide a sense of urgency that can keep you moving. The “lose two pounds a month” goal and the “bench two hundred pounds by your birthday” goal both do a good job of being time bound – but the talented runner who we imagined striving for a 15 minute 5K should probably choose a race date if she wants to make the mark.