Many people use the New Year to set new goals. I personally set goals for myself every year. Though I didn’t hit all of them in 2021, I did accomplish a few things, like completing my eCPPT and blogging monthly. This year I’ve been more conscious of others’ goals though. I want to see how they want to grow but more importantly how they’re going to get there. I find them very puzzling at times because I truly don’t know how they will accomplish them or what hitting that “goal” looks like. I believe people mix up goals and resolutions. Resolutions are an overarching decision to do or not do something. Whereas goals are very specific targets. People make resolutions and never follow up by setting goals, making resolutions just meaningless words said at the beginning of the year. So I’ll be focusing on goals, because that’s where the rubber meets the road.
When it comes to goals in the business world, I see the acronym SMART used a lot and I really like it. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound.
Specific – You want to be able to ask and answer some of the 5 “W” questions: Who, What, Where, When and Why.
Measurable – Simply put, how do you know when the goal is accomplished? You want to be precise. I see this being one of the biggest mistakes when setting up a goal that is out of the person’s control.
Achievable – Is this a realistic goal? Kind of goes along with measurable.
Relevant – I feel like this is the least important step in SMART, but you just want to confirm that it’s worthwhile to do. Does it make sense to set this goal at this time?
Time-bound – This is just setting a time frame. I feel like this is another important step in setting up a goal, and this step has pushed me numerous times.
Of these, the three that I feel are most important are Measurable, Achievable and Time-bound. When I see someone post goals on social media, I know that, typically, this is a quick summary of what they want to accomplish in the upcoming year. This generally feels like wishful thinking but for me even the slightest change to a goal can make a wish into a reality.
I often see goals like “lose 60lbs” but this goal in some ways is out of your control. Weight fluctuates with time, based on activity, and sometimes your body just has moments that no matter how hard you try, you just can’t lose anything for a week or two, especially if you have less weight to lose at that point. So, what would be a better goal? Maybe a goal to help support losing 60lbs. Something like, “Weight training 3 times a week for 45 minutes per session.” This goal is achievable; you can control how often you train. There’s always 24 hours in a day and 7 days in a week. It’s up to you how you spend that time.
I feel especially at the beginning of the year there’s a tendency to make a goal for the entire year. I’d rather see shorter term goals. Let’s take my example of “Weight training 3 times a week for 45 minutes per session,” and change it slightly to “Weight training 3 times a week for 45 minutes per session for 3 months.” Just adding that 3 months at the end of the goal might make it feel more doable for that period of time. Also, in 3 months when you successfully hit this or don’t, it might be a great time to reevaluate this goal. Maybe have fewer sessions but add time per session, or maybe leave it as is and make an additional goal of “Yoga 2 times a week for 30 minutes per session for 3 months.”
Now that we’ve gone over what a SMART goal looks like, let’s take a look at some goals I found on twitter.
“5 min warm-ups before lifting. 5 mins of stretching pre + post workout. Stretching through the day. Cold showers (probably not happening).. “
The first two goals above are much more defined. I know the activity that is happening, when and how long it’s happening. Is it Measurable? Sure, you can set your watch to 5 minutes. Is it Achievable? I believe so; I’m guessing adding 5 minutes for these activities isn’t messing with his day. Is it Time-bound? There’s no set time on how long they’ll do it, but if they lift then they should do this task. Now compare it to “Stretching through the day” though; what does that look like? How long? When? Something like “5 mins of stretching before a meal” or “Stretching one part of my body before eating” defines the goal a little more and makes it SMART.
I think goals are important and not something that should just be started at the start of a new year. Goals should be looked at and evaluated often throughout the year to determine progress. Sometimes goals fail and that’s alright. It’s important to reevaluate those goals and change it to make it more doable or see if it’s still worth doing. Like Scooby1961 said about exercising, “The workout you do consistently because you love it is far superior to the ‘best workout’ that you never do.” So try making SMART goals but make sure it’s something you want to do instead of what you “should”do. If you have trouble staying motivated then your goals are wrong.
Editor: Emily Domedion