Written by Sarah Loogman
It’s always a good time to set new goals, but the New Year is always an especially momentous time to declare ambitions anew. The turn of a calendar for many people brings a sense of starting over and another chance at dreams not yet realized. The New Year is often considered a fresh start to becoming whoever you want to be and to accomplish great things. Among these newly sought aspirations it is common to find fitness and health related goals, whether it’s simply to start one’s very first gym membership or attain a bodyweight goal. We encourage you, this year, to set SMART goals to optimize your “new year, new me” endeavors and pave the way to sure success.
SMART goals are those that follow the acronym for specific, measurable, action-oriented, realistic and time-bound goals. Here’s how and why you should get SMART in 2017:
A specific goal has a much greater chance to be achieved than one put in general terms. The goal should answer the who, what, when, where and even the why of what you are trying to accomplish. The more detailed your goal the better!
Bad: I want to be more fit.
Good: I will sign up for a gym membership at Northstate CrossFit within the first two weeks of 2017 so that I can be fit enough to keep up with my kids.
Measurable goals ensure that you have distinct criteria by which you will know precisely when you have achieved you goal. Vague goals leave room for subjective measurement of your progress and actual achievement. If you know precisely the details of your goals, you’ll stay more encouraged and motivated along the smaller steps you take towards those goals. Measurable goals should answer the questions “how much?” or “how many?“. Also, “how will I know when I’ve reached my goal?”.
Bad: I want to lose weight and get stronger.
Good: My goal is to lose 5% of body fat and be able to deadlift my own bodyweight.
Your goals should specify the actions necessary to accomplish them. What will you do in order to achieve these goals? Without a direct plan of action, you increase the risk that your goals will drop down your priority list as other commitments arise.
Bad: I want to increase my mobility.
Good: I will mobilize 3 days a week for at least 15 minutes each session.
Your goals should be big, a little scary even, but they should also be within realistic bounds. Realistic goals take into account the amount of time and effort you are willing to dedicate to them and even the sacrifices that you are willing to make. Goals set to low often represent low measures of motivation and should be reconsidered. Goals that fall in a good range of reality versus valiant ambition can be challenging to set for yourself, so find an expert in the field you want to improve in who knows your current capabilities and ask for help in setting your goals.
Bad: I want to compete at the CrossFit Games. (With 6 months of experience)
Good: I will sign up for my CrossFit Open qualifier and aim to place in the top 35% of my division.
When do you want to accomplish your goals by? Your goals need a timeline that tie you to your intended outcomes. A sense of urgency will press you forward in the necessary actions to accomplish your goals. Your “due date” may be marked by a particular event or it may be set for a particular time frame. Both short-term and long-term goals are valuable to help measure your progress along the way.
Bad: I want to run an 8-minute mile.
Good: I want to achieve an 8-minute mile by June 2017.
Goals set you apart from the person you are now to the person you want to be. Goals help you create yourself as a person with the assets you desire and the skills or rewards that bring you pride. Goals give you permission to pat yourself on the back every once in awhile and say, “I did it.”
Don’t resist setting goals because you fear failure. When you set a goal and you truly dedicate to the endeavor, it is impossible to fail no matter the outcome. Even if you fall short of the end goal, your pursuits will have moved you forward in the direction you intended. If you set a goal to run a marathon, yet you only make it 25 miles, you still ran 25 more miles than you started with. If you want to add 20lbs to a lift and you fall short at 15lbs, you’ve still set a personal record regardless. If you want to lose 30lbs by your wedding and you’ve lost 25, you’re still going to drop jaws as you walk down the aisle. In setting goals and pursuing them with honesty, you always win. Be SMART.
“People with goals succeed because they know where they are going.”
– Earl Nightingale