Updated: Oct 5, 2021
“Vagueness is the enemy of ever reaching your goals. If you don't have a clear picture you will never know what you can achieve and if you have or not.”
People who start working with us are often surprised when we tell them we’re going to do goal-setting together. I often hear, “Why? I already know my goal…” along with “I want to lose weight,” while another wants to gain, and finally a third tells me they “want to increase performance and stay the same.” These are all GREAT goals, and we’ve helped a lot of people achieve these exact things. So, why do we take so much time goal setting if people already know what their goals are?
Goals only work if they are set in such a way that they hold you accountable & allow for appropriate changes and growth during the process. If the goal is to lose weight, how do you know when you’ve been successful? If you never set Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely goals, it is very difficult to measure if you have met them or not.
If you lose 5 pounds but it takes you 3 years, is that successful? Maybe. It depends on why you lost the weight, how you lost it, and what you wanted to achieve. What would be better would be to set a goal as such; I want to lose 5 pounds, weighing in weekly, while working with Powell Performance nutrition, who agrees this is a feasible goal over the next 5 weeks. This has all the SMART goal components:
Specific – You know exactly how much weight you want to lose. This can also be specific by choosing a body fat percentage or the number of inches you want to trim. We have even had clients whose specific goal has been to wear a certain piece of clothing--and it has worked for them!
Measurable – Weighing in weekly will allow you to measure progress often enough to gauge how the process is going without becoming obsessive and understanding there will be daily changes. This can also be measured in our system with habits and processes. We don’t want to celebrate only scale or number victories but also consistency and changing habits. A great example would be if your habit goal was to eat breakfast everyday, we can measure how many days each week you did that. This is just as important as the scale changes.
“Your outcomes are a lagging measure of your habits… Your weight is a lagging measure of your eating habits… You get what you repeat.” – James Clear, Atomic Habits
Achievable – The person in my example chose to lose 5 pounds, for most people this is a reasonable goal and something that can be accomplished. We are big believers in pushing yourself to really reach for big dreams and goals—we’ve devoted an entire article to this topic alone!
Realistic – There are a few different ways to approach this piece of the SMART acronym. As you are going through this step, an important part will be to figure out the small steps that will help with you getting to your goal. Specifically, at this step the important questions to ask yourself are:
Do I have the resources available to achieve this?
If I don’t have them, how can I get them?
Timely – If a goal isn’t set to a timeline and specific date or event, then it’s just a wish. There needs to be a slight sense of urgency. As we talked about earlier, for most of our SMART goals we are looking to set up habits and tasks that just barely put us out of our comfort zone. Stretch too far and we get discouraged, don’t stretch far enough and we get bored. The timing component can quickly change the urgency and stress of a goal. If you have followed the other steps, you already have a plan in place and now it’s time to set some parameters.
Along with this article, we also have goal setting handouts and drills for you to do. We find that a lot of our athletes and clients have never truly been asked to write out their goals. When they are forced to really dig deep, they often find that they were just wishing for large general things that they never “achieved.”
It’s not that they didn’t make progress or move forward, but they were just constantly chasing large general ideas. If you figure out what you want to achieve, assign values and follow the SMART principles along with the PP habit forming skills. You can accomplish many more goals and tasks in a shorter amount of time.