Last week we talked about how we should put some serious thought into our goals and New Years resolutions for 2021. How we want our resolve to achieve our dreams to last beyond Quitters Day, which this year is this Sunday, 17th January!
So this week we are going to focus on how we turn our dreams and ambitions into a properly constructed goal. A properly constructed goal gives you a greater chance of success. Why? Well, for one if it’s properly constructed, you actually know what success looks like! By using the strategy we discuss here to set out your goal, you will be ensuring that what you want to achieve is doable, and it has an end date, so that you have a clear idea of when you will be done!
Goals are highly motivating in themselves. I know when I have a particular goal set it focuses my mind and gives me purpose. My goals usually involve physical activity or taking part in a particular event, and this is what then motivates me to get out there and train. It particularly helps me if I make my goal public too, because I am the sort of person who doesn’t like to let people down. And in my head, I think that if I don’t achieve what I say I will publicly, people will be disappointed in me. I know deep down that no-one really cares, but it’s what works for me. So you also need to work out what will keep you motivated, and we will go through more of these strategies in the next week or so.
Going back to last week and having short, medium and long term goals, when it came to weight loss, my goals were very short term. I didn’t even really know that I wanted to lose 6 stone. My mindset was that I would know when I had got to where I wanted to be, when I was there, so I just tackled a few pounds at a time. Half a stone or a stone at a time, then review. It wasn’t quick, but I got there eventually, and I stayed there. And we see this repeatedly with our more successful members. They just have a short term focus for the scales, and longer term goals for their fitness.
Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible, and the act of writing a goal down is a very powerful motivator, whether that is publicly or privately. Goals ‘held’ in the mind are more likely to be jumbled up with the other 1,500 thoughts per minute that the average human being experiences, so we recommend that if you are serious about achieving your goals, you must write them down. In fact, people with written goals are 50% more likely to achieve, than people without written goals. But did you know that only 3 out of every 100 adults actually take the time to write their goals down on paper. Will you be one of the 3?
What you become whilst striving to achieve your goal is often more significant than the goal itself. Because, you have proven to yourself and the world that you do have will power, you can commit and dedicate yourself to something, enough to make a difference, and most importantly that you are capable of sacrifice.
How to construct a SMART Goal?
If you have ever been on a project management course at work, you will have definitely heard of SMART goals before, and no doubt you are silently rolling your eyes at this point. But without wanting to sound all jargonistic, SMART goals work!!
So what does SMART stand for?
S- Specific you know specifically what it is that you want to achieve – it stops things being airy fairy e.g I want to lose weight or I want to get fit, isn’t very specific is it? But slap a figure in there and you have a clearer idea of where you are going.
M- Measurable If something has a numerical value it is measurable. Or if you either do something or you don’t, it is measurable. e.g 10000 steps, or completing a specific activity on a specific day. When your goal is measurable you can also measure your progress along the way. When you can see the progress you’re making you fuel your motivation and focus.
A- Achievable Set a goal that is achievable and you are half way to achieving it. Set a goal that’s too difficult to achieve, and you are setting yourself up for failure. So check in with yourself to make sure what you want to achieve is doable.
R-Realistic This is is similar to Achievable. For example, losing 4 stone is achievable, but is losing 4 stone in 6 weeks realistic? Definitely not! So make sure your parameters are realistic. Look at the sacrifices that you will have to make to achieve your goal – will you be able to? Some things we just can’t give up, so make sure your sacrifices are realistic too.
T- Time bound Making your goal time bound gives you an end date. It means that you know when you get to that date whether you have been successful or not, and also gives you a point in time to focus on. So often, we start to tackle a big task and we don’t know when it will end. Having a date set for how long we have to focus for can really spur us on when our motivation is waning. For example, when I am training for an event, getting up early for a run or a workout is really challenging at times, especially when you are tired, but if you know it’s only for 5 more weeks, then you will be able to relax a little, it really helps to give you that push to get out there and do it.
Examples of a SMART goal
I will lose 1 stone by the end of March.
Can you see that it is specific, measurable, achievable and realistic and there is a date when it will be achieved by, so it’s time bound.
I will run London marathon on October 3rd
Achievable and Realistic? Yes, plenty of time to train for it, I can already run comfortably and have a good level of fitness
Time bound? Yes – there is a date set.
I will drink 2 litres of water every day
Absolutely specific and measurable, certainly realistic and definitely achievable and timebound.
We want you to construct your own SMART Goals for 2021. You can have more than one, but not too many – a good idea would be to have a short term goal, a medium term goal, perhaps at your half way point to your long term goal. Too many will become unrealistic and unachievable, so check in on that too – can you still do ‘life’ around achieving your goals? If you can’t, adjust it slightly to make it more realistic. You have got the rest of your life to live this new lifestyle, so don’t jump in with two feet, planning marathons and dropping 10 stones in weight, in a year. This is a long journey, take your time and enjoy the process.
Tell us your goals on the forums, we will be happy to give you feedback on how ‘SMART’ they are, then next week we will talk about how to formulate a SMART plan to get you to your goals!