Monday, October 31, 2011

Make goals S.M.A.R.T.

Recently, I was reminded of the power of goal-setting--particularly when you follow the S.M.A.R.T. formula. Funny how trying to lose weight can provide a powerful lesson!

Let's break down the S.M.A.R.T. goal formula...

S="Specific"  Too often, I hear people say things like "I need to be more organized" or "I want to have more time for my family" or, as in my case "I need to lose weight." All are great goals to have, but as they are, they are completely useless statements because they are not specific enough. Be specific. For me, I made my weight loss goal be 20 pounds. That's pretty specific.

M="Measurable"  The reason you want to be specific is because you need to have something to measure against to see if you are making progress. Measuring should be easy, as well. With my weight loss goal, I decided to weigh myself once a week at the same time and day each week. That way I can track progress.

If you have a goal of going home 30 minutes earlier everyday, you can track how many days in a week you were able to do that. Over time, you can see what kind of progress you have made.

A="Attainable"  Don't create a goal that is impossible. That will only create discouragement and setup sure failure. My actual weight-loss goal is 35 pounds. However, I knew that was a lot to shoot for. So, I created the smaller, 20 pound goal as a "first step."

For the person who wants to gain more time, perhaps an initial goal of 15 minutes a day is better than trying to go home 30 minutes earlier. Once you attain a small goal, you can always create a NEW goal. That creates a momentum of success rather than failure.

R="Realistic"  This may seem very similar to the "Attainable" category. However, it is slightly different. This has more to do with knowing yourself. Will you do the things necessary to achieve the goal? For me, my weight loss goal amounted to losing 2 pounds a week. I had to know that I was willing and able to do the things that would lead to that.

Be honest with yourself. Lying to yourself here sets up failure. It is much better to succeed at a smaller, realistic goal than to fail at a larger one.

T="Timely"  Without a deadline, a goal is only "hope." My deadline for my 20 pound weight loss goal is my birthday in about a week from now. I set that when I started and I am only 1 pound away from achieving that. Then, I have set my secondary goal (for the other 15 pounds) to be reached by the second week of January--when all my family gets together for the Holidays.

Without a target date set, you have nothing to hold yourself accountable to. It becomes too easy to keep pushing the date further and further away. Next thing you know, you are at New Years 2012 wondering what happened to all your goals.

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