The first thing you have to do when you’re starting out with anything in health and fitness (or in life, for that matter) is CLEARLY DEFINE YOUR GOAL. I cannot emphasize this enough, myself and most people in this world tend to blankly state something that they want to achieve with no clue in the world how the hell they’re going to get there; then they stumble around following a path (if they’re luckily, often enough people bushwack through the Mirkwood forrest thinking they’re on a path but are nowhere close to one) that may have either of the following: a.) a ridiculous amount of twists and turns that aren’t helpful in the process b.) one that will not lead them to where the want to go at all c.) a path that is so foreign and confusing that makes them turn back early and say “screw it! This shit’s too hard!” So unless you’re a huge fan of the scenic route and willing to risk the chance of getting lost through most of it, do yourself a favour by thinking long and hard about what you want to do and how far you’re willing to go to get there.
Now that I’ve explain the importance of goal-setting, here’s how you can properly and efficiently identify if it is a realistic one. You’ve probably heard the acronym S.M.A.R.T before; it is one of the most simple and effective tools when it coming to setting up the structure for getting to your destination. This is what it stands for:
S – specific, significant
M – measurable, meaningful, motivational
A – agreed upon, achievable, action-oriented
R – rewarding, results-oriented
T – time-bound
These five letters are you keys to successfully defining what it is that you want to do. I stress the word “you” here because often people do things that others want of them and not necessarily what they, themselves, want. Don’t get me wrong here – it is perfectly fine to want to impress others or lose some weight because your mother is worried about your health, but in the end it must ultimately be something that you want to achieve as have self-love and being able to independently make yourself happy is something to strive for — which is totally not a selfish thing!!! In fact, it helps you become more selfless…if you’ve ever heard the saying “you must love yourself before you can love others”, this is the point I am making about self-driven goals. Also, when others see that you have become successful through your own innate drive, they may be inspired to do the same and rise (above societal constructs and demands) through the love of their own uniqueness and have the willpower to change. Using, S.M.A.R.T., I will give personal examples and identify each elements and how I “edited” them to be S.M.A.R.T. and incorporated them into my plan.
S – Significant & Specific
There are four steps to indentifing your goal:
1.) State the specific goal that you want to achieve (in simple terms).
Example: I want a six pack
2.) State how you will reach the goal.
Example: I want a six pack, so I need to be thin.
3.) Incorporate the reason why you currently are unable to have this goal into the how of the goal.
Example: I want a six pack; I do not have one because my abs are covered by a layer of belly fat, so I must lose that layer of belly fat.
4.) Why is your goal significant? Do YOU actually want to achieve it? How do you think you’ll feel when you reach it?
You must ask yourself these questions before you move on to the next aspect of S.M.A.R.T. – answering them will help you know if you’re on the right path or not.
An example of a GOOD goal: I want to build bigger arms by doing heavier arm workouts. I don’t have big arms right now because I only do 2 arm exercises for 30 repetitions of light weight per week. I want to get bigger arms because I like the look of them and will feel more confident in myself at the gym and will be able to force myself to try more exercises.
An example of a BAD goal: I want to build bigger arms by doing heavier arm workouts. I don’t have big arms right now because I only do 2 arm exercises for 30 repetitions of light weight per week. I want to get bigger arms because my friend tells me that girls think guys who have small arms are unappealing and pathetic, I should follow his advice because he has big arms and a girlfriend.
M – Measureable, Meaningful, & Motivational
It’s all find and dandy that you’ve got a visualization of your goal and how you will achieve it but we need to know numbers here! Do you want to add 1,2,3,4 etc inches to your biceps? This component will allow you to feel satisfied or know that you have to keep going because it enables you to track the progress of your goal.
Secondly, it has to have a higher level of significance…your “wanting to add 3 inches to your biceps” must be MEANINGFUL – ie you really feel satisfied when you see your rippling biceps in the mirror in the morning. Basically, you need a “definition” of your
“want.” This meaningful significance should also be motivating – it’ll make it easier to work towards your goal. For example, if you hate running everyday you’re probably not going to have a fun time increasing your endurance level, might as well spend time on the spin bike.
A – agreed upon, achievable, action-oriented
This component of S.M.A.R.T is probably the most complex and thought-provoking of the five steps. First off, since you know what your goal is and how it must be achieved, you need to agree to following the path to getting there – otherwise, what’s the point?! It’s kind of like a personal contract between your thoughts and your actions; you need to keep them on the same page if you want to eventually achieve your goal.
This brings me to my next point of achievable goals. It’s easy to want something, but not necessarily easy to actually get it – therefore we must be reasonable in our expectations of ourselves and what our minds and bodies are able to do; I’d be pretty darn frustrated if I told myself I needed to be able to squat 225 lbs with perfect form within the next month as this, is quite an unlikely feat to happen. For one thing, my 1RM with perfect form right now is about 180 lbs on a good day and it took me over a year to get there, so adding 45 lbs on top of that is unreasonable as strength takes time (repetition and rest!) to accumulate. Besides the physical strength part, being achievable also takes into account outside influences that may help/disrupt your goal. For example, if you work 40 hours per week, have a child to take to and from school and soccer practice alongside little things like laundry, meal prep, dishes, and cleaning, you’re most likely not going to have time to workout every day 1.5-2 hours per day…unless, of course, you are willing to exercise early in the morning or late in the day (i.e. 5-6:30am or 9-10:30pm if you work a typical 9am-5pm job). You also have to factor in your energy levels and nutritional timing; if you need to lift weights at 5am, you’ll have to eat something both substantial and digestible at 4am so you’ll be ready to go at 5pm. There’s showering time needed too…if you’re a half-decent individual that likes to properly wash after sweating for 90 minutes and not just spray yourself head to toe in Axe or some other scent-laden body spray.
You may be wondering “how do I myself agree to my goal?”. Well, that will require some considerable willpower on your half which is defined through words but put in motion by action. The term “actions speak louder than words is extremely crucial here; you HAVE to get into the HABIT of JUST DOING THINGS. Stop second guessing yourself, stop making excuses, and to quote Nike JUST DO IT! Unless there’s an emergency to attend to or your family/friends/coworkers are in dire need of your help, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t do something that you’ve stated that you WANT to do.
R – Results-oriented
Now…for what you’ve been waiting for…your results! What did meeting your goal allow you to achieve? What do you see that was not their before? This part of S.M.A.R.T does not only apply to your “end goal”, it can also apply to the weeks leading up to the “end goal”. For example, if your overall goal is to lose 20 lbs in 4 months (i.e. 140 lbs on the scale rather than 160 lbs), then your “part-way” results can be to have lost 5 pounds (month 1 goal) or tight pants fitting 2 inches less snuggly (maybe your halfway-mark goal)
T – Timebound
Unfortunately, things do take time…heck I’ve been lifting for 6 years and it’s taken me 5 to ACTUALLY follow a decent CONSISTENT workout and nutrition plan. So don’t just say “I’ll get this or that whenever”, give yourself a time limit! For example: “I want to be able to do 8×3 squats for _____ lbs by this day/month/year,_______”. Also, make sure it follows the “achievable” part of the “A”in S.M.A.R.T described above.
Now, if you are ready to start your fitness journey, visit one of the Vibrant Islander pages given in the links below!
Below are the links to the different sections of Fitness that provide information that is relative to your GOAL.
Click here if you are a beginner (haven’t done much exercise in your life and have relatively no idea as to the essence of what you’re eating).
Click here if you are an intermediate exerciser but are lacking a little direction
Click here if you are an expert exerciser, but don’t want to spend hours looking for the best new articles on fitness and nutrition or subscribe to all the websites out there.
- Haughey, D. (27 May 2014). Project smart.Smart goals.
- Retrieved from https://www.projectsmart.co.uk/smart-goals.php