How To Set Goals

How To Set Goals



Self-management. That can be kind of a scary word in today’s society. “You mean no one is going to do it for me?!” In time where everything is instant, streaming video on your cell phone, Google any question and you have an answer, the process of setting goalsand delayed gratification is almost a lost art. Success in any kind of a program stems from what you wanted to get out of it in the first place. That means we must set goals for ourselves in the beginning in order to know where we are headed in the following weeks, months, and in some cases, years.

When we set goals, whether it is with my pitching clients, athletes, or group training clients there is always one acronym that I use to help evaluate the goals we set for ourselves: S.M.A.R.T. I will take you through each one individually so that you can use them to evaluate the goals you have set for yourself. Fitting a goal into these criteria will increase adherence, increase motivation, and decrease fear. Setting a big goal can seem daunting at the outset, but laying out the framework we will provide can take that fear away and make it manageable.Let’s start by analyzing a common goal that people new to the process often state. We will analyze this goal under each category, and offer ways to improve the quality of the goal. Clients often say: “I want to tone up.” Let’s break that goal down in each section and improve it.

S is for specific. A specific goal is so clearly defined that anyone can easily understand its meaning. “Tone up” is really an ambiguous phrase, I don?t know exactly what area of the body is being referred to, or if it’s the whole body. A specific way to say this goal could perhaps be, “I want to lose 5% body fat.” Now we know exactly what we are aiming at, and it gives a clear direction in which we are heading, and it takes us directly into our next letter.

M is for Measurable. Tone up doesn’t give us a benchmark with which we can say we achieved this goal or not. However, if we want to lose 5% body fat, we can take measurements and be certain as to whether or not we have done it. Without a quantifiable number, we leave ambiguity and interpretation as our means of evaluation. (not the best way to do things)

A is for Attainable. Goals need to be the right mix of challenging, but not extreme. If the goal is too lofty, we will never achieve it and get discouraged from future progress. On the other hand, if the goal is too easy, we don’t have the opportunity to grow as a person because we haven’t been challenged enough. I have a favorite quote that I use when I talk to people about their goals, and it fits perfectly here: “There are two paths in life. One of them is easy, and it’s only reward is that it was easy.” Basically anything worth doing is a challenge and will make you work for it.

R is for Realistic. A realistic goal is one that you are both willing and able to do. If you truly, deep down believe that you can accomplish something, then it is probably realistic. (no matter how much I believe I can fly by flapping my arms, it is not realistic) If you have accomplished something similar in the past, then you are in the ballpark. Also think about what conditions would have to exist in order for this goal to be a reality. If you don’t have access to what you need to accomplish your goal, then it?s not realistic.

T is for timely. Last but certainly not least is your time frame. How long is it going to take for this goal to be accomplished? Is this a short term or a long term goal? Good goals should have elements of both in them. If 5% body fat loss is your goal it could be a 3 or 6 month goal, long term. So inside of that long term goal we should have smaller short term goals that help us achieve our big goal. Month to month we can set short term goals, perhaps you have struggled to maintain a program in the past. Your first goal can be going to your training class or workouts 3 times a week for this whole month. Your second month we can create new short term goals to add to the first one, cutting carbs and sticking to your nutritional plan, meeting your protein goals every day to name a few. Stacking these short term goals inside of your long term goal really help make the large task at hand seem less daunting and much more attainable; small steps are easier than a large leap!

To sum up, using the goal setting process increases your self-confidence and satisfaction, ups your motivation, and empowers you to take control and responsibility for your life. The New Year is when everyone sets resolutions and goals for themselves. Here at Faster Fitness we know how to help you set smart, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely goals to help you on your way. Make this year different and use these principles to create the best you that this year can bring!

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About the Author: Marshall Ray

Marshall Ray is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), Level 2 Poliquin International Certified Strength Coach (PICP), Biosignature Practitioner and a certified Precision Nutrition Coach (Pn1). He is the founder of Faster Fitness and co-founder of Femme Fit. He's passionate about building a community of people who love fitness and taking control of their health.