Fitness Inspiration: Setting S.M.A.R.T. Goals
Jaime Filer, Online Editor-In-Chief of Muscle Insider, Canada's #1 Muscle Magazine, returns with her second post on some of the psychology behind motivation. In this edition of Fitness Inspiration, she gets into the benefits of setting S.M.A.R.T. goals, and how to apply that to your life in your fitness routine, with your meal management system, and every other way you stay happy and healthy. Read on for her thoughts!
If you've been in a first-year psychology class, or self-help seminar, or read a book about goal setting, then you've heard the term â€œS.M.A.R.T. goals." It's lame, it's cheesy, it's clichÃ© - and there's a reason it works. I won't go into much detail regarding the textbook definition of the acronym, but I will go into HOW and WHY each letter should apply to you, and how setting S.M.A.R.T. goals will help you achieve your fitness transformation goals.
When setting S.M.A.R.T. goals, you begin by defining the goal in SPECIFIC terms. There should be no ambiguity in your language. You want to compete in 26 weeks on May 2, 2015 at 5% body fat and 135 pounds in the Women's Physique category â€“ that's specific. This is where you'll lay the foundation for how you plan on getting to 5% body fat in 26 weeks:
- WHO will be involved in the process with you (I'd suggest hiring a coach, and warning your significant other).
- WHY you're doing this (see Fitness Inspiration: Figuring Out Your Whys).
- WHEN you'll hit the gym and use your meal management system (fail to plan, plan to fail, so don't bail on meal prep).
- WHICH constraints or requirements will be involved (such as dieting during the holidays).
So you want to get to 5% body fat, but how will you know when you're there? What does 5% look like? This is where you define exactly how you'll MEASURE progress. Are you going to have a calendar where you write down your weight every day? Will you take a body fat assessment in a clinic monthly, using a Bod Pod? Will you check in with your coach weekly, using pictures? How many pounds/body fat do you have to lose weekly to get to your goal in 26 weeks? When setting S.M.A.R.T. goals, you have to be able to measure or quantify your goal.
Does your goal make sense for you? If you placed 3rd at your first regional show, but your overall goal is the Olympia, it's just not going to happen, at least not this year. Your goal should be to win a regional show, then maybe build on that. Your goals should be challenging enough for the time frame, but also ACHIEVABLE. (After all, without challenge, there's no change.)
Relevant or Realistic
Do you actually have an interest in competing? Are you just doing it because your trainer told you that you should? Or because you think it'll win the attention of your crush/significant other/trainer? You need to be doing this for YOU, and only you. Competing is no small feat, so if a pro card, or even a nationals qualification, isn't RELEVANT to or REALISTIC for you, you might want to reevaluate.
This is the â€œwhen" part when setting S.M.A.R.T. goals: did you give yourself enough TIME to complete it? Let's say you want to lose 50 pounds for your show, and gave yourself 26 weeks â€“ technically, it can be done, but did you account for the time it'll take for your skin to regain its elasticity pre-show/post weight-loss? Did you account for potential slip-ups and setbacks? Just like meal prep, failing to prepare is preparing to fail.
Setting S.M.A.R.T. goals may take you a little more time, because it requires truly understanding yourself and your motivation. No one ever said it was going to be easy, but that doesn't mean it's impossible. Learn how to set S.M.A.R.T. goals and you're halfway there. From meal prep and meal management to deciding whether competing is for you, approaching your goals in a S.M.A.R.T. way can only help. So what are you waiting for?