When aiming for lifestyle changes, it’s hard to overestimate the importance of goal setting! After all, if you have no goals to conquer, it’s difficult to assess whether a certain approach is working for you. As a result, even if you are actually making positive changes, you may not be able to detect and appreciate them, which isn’t great for mindset and motivation.
It doesn’t help that revamping your lifestyle is anything but easy! Setting goals, on the other hand, can really help obtain a sense of direction and assist in creating new habits in small, approachable steps instead of feeling like you’re stumbling in the dark.
Today, we’re going to talk you through easy, effective goal setting techniques as we truly want you to succeed long-term! The tools outlined below can help set not only physique goals, but also target your mind and spirit, creating a sense of balance and control both within fitness and your life as a whole.
S.M.A.R.T. goal setting framework
There are many approaches to goal setting, however the S.M.A.R.T. framework is certainly our favourite! Specifically, a goal is considered S.M.A.R.T. if it is:
S - Specific
This means that each goal you set must be as specific as possible – in other words, clear and well-defined. For instance, a goal of “improving physique” is quite vague. Think about what exactly this might mean to you – e.g. dropping some body fat, or perhaps increasing your strength on your favourite lift?
M - Measurable
Choosing a specific direction is a great start – however, you also want to make sure you will be able to measure your progress! For instance, if your overall goal is improving your squats, you may want to set a number of quality reps you want to be able to perform with a certain weight.
A - Attainable
This parameter involves staying in touch with reality and honestly assessing whether you will be able to reach your goal – at all! Ask yourself whether you currently possess the resources and capabilities to achieve the goal, and whether anyone has been able to complete this goal before. Even if the answer to both questions is “no”, it doesn’t matter that your goal is impossible – however, it’s likely not the best goal at this time. Break it down into smaller, attainable tasks. For example, your first jog shouldn’t turn into a marathon – a few laps around the block is probably a good start.
R – Realistic
This is similar to the previous point, but more directed at you. Even if something is attainable in general, it doesn’t mean that it’s realistic given your circumstances! For example, aiming for 6 long gym sessions a week while living an hour from the nearest facility and being a single working mum of 3 kids isn’t realistic for most in this situation, and 3-4 home workouts with occasional gym runs would be something to look at instead.
T - Timely
Setting time-bound goals ensures you’re forced to stay on track and regularly assess your performance! For example, you may want to improve your performance by X date, or even participate in an event such as a race or competition. The human brain loves deadlines for a sense of efficiency and urgency – harness this for your own benefit!
An example of building a S.M.A.R.T goal
Initially, goal setting can be a bit confusing – especially since the components of the S.M.A.R.T. framework don’t work that well in isolation!
To get a better hang of this, let’s take a “bad” goal and make it better!
Oftentimes, people approach training with a vague goal of “I want to get fitter”. This alone means very little, providing no sense of direction! So, let’s give this common vague goal a makeover.
There are endless potential S.M.A.R.T. goals corresponding to the desire of getting fitter, as each specific goal derived from this can be related to completely different aspects of fitness. This is exactly why it’s so important to be specific!
Some possible options include:
- "I want to increase the overall amount of physical activity I perform. Starting tomorrow, I will go on a 30-minute walk around the block every second day. This will get me to 6,000-7,000 overall daily steps."
- "My goal is to lose 3 kg in the next 8 weeks. On Monday, I will start following a nutrition plan providing X calories/macros daily and attending exercise classes at my local gym 3 times a week on the days when my children are in daycare."
- "Starting Thursday, I will add a set of chin-ups to the end of each training session – by the end of the month, I would like to increase my unassisted chin-up personal best from 4 to 6."
See how each of these goals relates to improving fitness, but in different ways meaningful to whoever is setting them and attainable in their circumstances? This is what S.M.A.R.T. goal setting is all about!
And just like that, long-term goals can be easily broken down into smaller, more attainable ones, giving you a sense of achievement and ensuring you can measure your progress and celebrate wins!
More goal setting tips for success
Goals should not be a “set and forget” deal! You don’t have to implement every tip below – however, use them to guide you towards the most effective approaches to goal setting that are likely to click with you.
Visualise your goals
...and keep them someplace visible! Whether you simply write them down or create a mood board, the important thing is to keep your goals in sight. This makes them more tangible and helps you stay on track!
Make an action plan
Setting a goal is one thing – however having a plan to achieve it is an often overlooked component of the process! For instance, if you’re planning on starting gym workouts next week and don’t have a membership in place, you need to outline the steps to lock it in – such as picking a day to visit a few local gyms, etc. Basically, an action plan is a series of mini-goals that go along with bigger ones!
Don't quit halfway
Moving towards your goal can seem difficult and even near-impossible at times – however, please stick with it! There may be times when all you want to do is give up, however if you’ve set your goals correctly, you will regret abandoning them. There’s also nothing wrong in evaluating and adjusting your goals on the way through, but none of those options involves quitting entirely!
In health and fitness, it’s really important to set goals and to give yourself the best chance of achieving them! This sense of progression will often create a flow on effect, allowing you to achieve incredible things in other aspects of life, too.
In the end, you will be glad you stuck with it – as what doesn’t challenge you, doesn’t change you - and we think change and progress is a really good thing.