Goal Setting for 2012
What are your resolutions for this year? Here are some tips from YMCA Personal Trainer Ryan Healy to help you stay on track!
Having a goal to shoot for is always a good thing as it keeps you motivated and engaged. Not to mention achieving something you’ve worked really hard for feels great. Where many people go wrong is in creating the plan, or lack thereof, to help them reach their goals. As the old saying goes, “He who fails to plan, plans to fail.”
If you wanted to go on a road trip you’d use a map to figure out the best way to get to your destination depending on what you wanted to see. Goal setting works the same way. You need a map to get you to your destination quickly and safely. At the Y we use the acronym S.M.A.R.T to help our clients set their goals and create a map. Let’s use an example of someone, we’ll call her Jane, that wants to lose body fat. To make her goals S.M.A.R.T let’s go through each letter to give you an example of proper goal setting.
Specific: Don’t just come up with a vague goal such as “I want to be in better shape.” Figure out what that means to you. Does that mean becoming faster, stronger, or having a better body composition? Let’s take Jane’s goal and make it specific. Instead of “I want to lose body fat,” Jane’s specific goal would be “I want to lose 10% body fat bringing me to a body fat percent of 20.”
Measurable: It’s hard to gauge your progress unless you can measure it. To help Jane keep track of hers she could meet with her trainer every month to get her body fat assessed and see how close she is to meeting her goal.
Action Steps: What steps will you need to take to reach your goal? You’ll have to go beyond what you’re currently doing to get there. What are you willing to give up or sacrifice to meet your goal? Try listing 6 of the most important action items to help you reach your goal. Don’t try to do them all at once but instead see if you can master one of them each week or two. That way you’ll be more likely to form a habit instead of getting overwhelmed at the prospect of changing everything at once. Here’s Jane’s hypothetical list.
- Strength train 3 days a week
- Drink 8 cups of water a day
- Have dessert only twice a week instead of every night
- Eat vegetables with every meal
- Add in two days of interval training
- Eat breakfast daily
Realistic: Your goal should be something that’s not easily achieved or you probably would have done it already, but also not something that’s so unrealistic that you give up easily. This can be very subjective but most people know if they really take some time to think about it, what is feasible for them. If the last time Jane had 20% body fat was when she was 12 years old that might not be a reasonable goal for her. However if it was a body fat percent that she maintained 10 years ago when she was in her twenties then it is probably realistic for her to achieve that with hard work.
Time Frame: An open ended goal without a specific date or time frame can easily get pushed down the list of important items in your life. Picking a significant date such as a birthday, holiday, or important event can give more urgency to your goal and help keep you on track. Maybe Jane wants to lose 10% body fat by Memorial Day so that she can feel comfortable in a bathing suit during the summer. Now she has a date set that she can circle on her calendar and work backwards to figure out how much body fat she’ll need to lose each month to hit her targets.
Additional goal setting tips:
-Write out your goal and hang it up where you can see it regularly, especially first thing in the morning so you can start your day off with a gentle reminder.
-If your goal is to lose body fat try hanging up pictures of yourself from a time when you were at your goal weight around the house for motivation.
-Schedule and include your timeline, action steps, and measurements in your daily planner or calendar. Jane would write in her: workouts, monthly meetings with her trainer, targets for each month, end date, and any new actions steps every few weeks.
-Take time each day to help prepare for your action steps. For Jane it could be packing her gym bag or preparing her healthy breakfast the night before, filling up a few water bottles to have around the house, or chopping and portioning out her vegetables for the week on Sundays.
For more tips from Ryan, visit our health and wellness blog here.