“If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.”  –Lewis Carroll (Alice in Wonderland)

Too often in life, for whatever reason(s), we sometimes get stuck in a rut and end up going about our routines without any direction or purpose, as reflected by the famous quote from Lewis Carroll.  This trend is often no different with our exercise routines, when we repeat the same routine or workouts with little progression or variety, or just kind of do whatever we feel like on any particular day.  It’s also easy, without a plan, to not feel like doing anything at all.  I can make these accusations with a clear conscious, knowing that I have certainly been guilty of these training/life pitfalls myself.

So, how can we “be better”, as my wife likes to tell me?  Stephen R. Covey gives us some great advice in  The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People when he advises us to

Begin with the end in mind.

One effective tool that will allow us to set our goals by “beginning with the end in mind” is the acronym SMART.

SMART stands for:

Specific.    Saying you want to be healthier this year is not specific.  Saying you want to lose 7 pounds and go to the gym 3 days a week is.  Saying you want to get toned up isn’t specific.  Saying you want to go from 24% body fat to 19% is.  Saying you want to get faster this year isn’t specific.  Saying you want to take 2 minutes off your 5K time is.  If it’s not specific, it’s not really a goal.  If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.

Measurable.  Usually, specific goals tend to be measurable as well.  Drawing from the example above, I can’t measure “toned”.  I can measure weight, or body fat percentage, or BMI, or circumference measurements.  I can measure strength by how much you can lift.  Speed by, well…your race times.  EasyPeasy.

Attainable and Realistic.  Essentially, don’t set yourself up to fail!  This doesn’t mean we can’t dream, but it does mean we set goals–even if they are short term–that are within our reality to reach.  Example:  I want to run a 2:05 marathon and win the Boston Marathon next year.  Specific–very.  Measurable–yes.  Attainable and Realistic–not in a million years.

Time Based.  When do you want to accomplish your goal?  The time may be set by an event, or season, or maybe you want to be to that desired weight/body comp by the beginning of ski season so you can really tear up the slopes!  Circle a date on the calendar, and put it somewhere where you see it every day!

So get going!  If you need help with your goals, or if you know your goals but don’t know “what road to take” to get you there, find someone who can help you.  That’s what coaches and trainers are for, and there are plenty of smart and knowledgeable ones around.

These guidelines can help you whether you’re creating goals for life, work, or health.  Finally, no matter what kind of goals you’re working on, put your goals in writing.

It’s not a goal unless you write it down.

There’s something about the written word–it becomes real as soon as you write it.  Best wishes for your SMART Goal setting!  Let us know if we can help!

wellness@montana.edu

2 thoughts on “SMART Goal Setting

  1. Hola! I love SMART goals. At UM, we have a wellness coaching program for students based on motivational interviewing and SMART goals. The R in our program stands for recognition. We have our clients write down in their SMART goal exactly what they are going to do to recognize the awesome work they did working toward their goal. we find this to be pretty valuable because people tend to be very aware of the few things we do wrong, but give ourselves little credit for the multitude of things we are doing right. Plus, attainable and realistic are kind of the same thing. Just wanted to share:)

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