Defining S.M.A.R.T. Goals

Defining S.M.A.R.T. Goals

by: Karina Klug, Wellness Buyer

A few years ago I took a Life Coach training course.  Life Coaches help their clients get clear about what they want; then helps them be proactive about making the changes they need for the desired effect in their lives.  One of the tools we learned for goal setting was S.M.A.R.T. Goals.

Before we begin, take a moment and think about a goal that you have for the New Year.  Ready?  Let’s take your goal(s) through the S.M.A.R.T. process.

The S. is for specific, which is such an important element in realizing a goal.  To be specific about what you want to create takes a lot of the frustration out of goal-setting.  If we have a vague goal and we don’t achieve it, we feel like we failed.  So, let’s explore what you want.  If you want to lose weight, how much? Why do you want to lose weight?  Before you disregard the why, with a “isn’t that obvious?” really think about it.  How will you feel when you have reached your goal?  Sit, feel and think about all of the details.

The M. is for measurable. In order to take steps, we have to know what precisely we want to have happen.  When our goal is measurable we have a clear marker for where we are, where we are going and when we have gotten there.  Instead of saying “I want to lose weight,” we can say, “I want to lose 20 pounds and I want to feel flexible.”  When our goals are measurable, we get clear on what we have to do every day to make our goals possible.  To say “I want to lose 20 pounds” is a very measurable goal.  To say “I commit to doing yoga three times a week” (and then sign up for the class) is very measurable.  Additionally, when we make our goals measurable, we make ourselves more accountable to achieving our goals.  When we are honest with ourselves about the parameters of a goal, it empowers us to make the change.

The A. is for attainable.  This is the time to contemplate if you really want to achieve this goal.  You might say “of course I do!”  But often one change sets off a whole series of changes, and it might be scary for us to do what it takes to make our goals a reality.  Have you always been the chubby friend?  Do you want all the role changes that your weight loss and “new you” could bring?  Who would you be to others if you lost the weight?  These are the things we have to acknowledge because they are our subconscious blocks to getting what we want.  This is the part where we get honest about the emotions that are hiding and bubbling underneath the surface.  Now that we have recognized our blocks we can find ways to still go forth with our goal.

The R. is for realistic. If you want to lose 20 pounds in 2 weeks that is not realistic or healthy.  How realistic is your goal?  Stop reading this and restate your goal now.  Is it realistic and can you make this happen?  If it is not realistic right now, do not throw it out, reshape it until it is realistic.

The T is for timely.  We need to have a time frame for goal completion.  It is a healthy motivator to have a bit of pressure and having a time frame helps us stay focused on our desired outcome.  This may take a few times of reworking your goal.  That is fine; the results will be worth the work!  Here is a quick breakdown of a goal: “I want to lose weight” is a vague goal.  “I want to lose twenty pounds and do yoga three times a week” is a bit clearer but still needs work.  Let’s try this: “By March 1st 2010, I am going to do yoga three times a week, walk for twenty minutes each morning and eat nutritious meals.  In doing this I will drop the excess weight I have and I feel lighter and more flexible.”  This is a goal worded in the present and clearer than “I am going to lose weight.”  Also it adds a time frame for goal completion and success.  You will still need to do some exploration such as what does a nutritious meal mean to you.  This would be a good starting point.  One more tip, when stating a goal make the language yours.  When it is written and spoken in your own words, you will be more likely to connect with it and believe it.  Realize the difference between being interested in completing a goal and being committed to achieving a goal.  In order to be truly committed to a goal one must ask one question daily: ‘What can I do today to work towards my goal?’  Ask this daily and then act on the answer.

So, I encourage you to start big with what you want most.  Chisel it down to be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely.

Happy and Healthy New Year.