October 05, 2023 4 min read
GOAL SETTING with Shane Robert
When I first stepped into a gym, I weighed 130 pounds (59kg) on a good day. Most days were a little less than that. I had no idea what I was doing, but I did know that I didn’t want to be so skinny. For a long time, before I learned the importance of goal setting, that was my only goal. The trouble was I didn’t know what that meant. Technically, gaining 5 pounds is “less skinny.” Was that enough to constitute success? It certainly was not. Indeed, 20 years and 60 pounds later and I still have being less skinny as one of my goals.
It was a long time before I learned the problem was a lack of proper goal setting. It wasn’t until well after I had been training clients for some time, I’m sad to say, that I was introduced to a proven process for setting, and achieving, goals.
It’s called the SMART criteria - Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time Bound. Let’s dig a little deeper into each word and discuss how to apply them.
STEP 1: Pick your goal(s) and make them SPECIFIC
Though this may seem obvious, most people miss the specific part of this. It’s fine to have a general goal but you need to attach a specific goal to it. For example you might say, “I want to get in better shape.” Great. That is very arbitrary with no real ground rules as to what that constitutes. How do you measure success or failure? What is “better shape?” A better solution is to say, “I want to get in better shape by losing ten pounds.” That is an example of a general goal that has specific guidelines that MUST be met in order to meet your goal.
STEP 2: Make your goal MEASURABLE and create mile markers
Establish concrete criteria for measuring your progress. For whatever your goal may be, the best way to ensure that you are on track is to make mini milestones, this will make the goal less overwhelming and allow for a sense of achievement along the way. If you’ve decided on 10 weeks to lose 10 pounds this would be a weekly weight loss of a pound. If you aren’t achieving that then you know you better step your game up.
STEP 3: Pick ACHIEVABLE goals and set consequences & rewards
Make goals that are challenging but realistic and attainable. While it's good to push yourself and set challenging goals, they should still be within the realm of possibility. Assess your resources, time, and capabilities and then determine the reward for success and the consequences for failure. If you know that reaching your goal will end with a reward or, conversely, not achieving your goal will result in negative consequences for you, you will be much more motivated to reach that goal. More so even than just setting a reward. Using our weight loss example from above, I might suggest that money (most people are motivated by the all mighty dollar) come into play. Find an outfit that you would really like to buy once you have hit your goal and figure out the cost. Take that money and give it to a (trustworthy) friend to hold. If you reach your goal, you buy the outfit. If you don’t, the friend can keep the money or if you want to get extreme, you can have your friend donate the money to a person, group or organization that you dislike. Knowing that failure means you are going to contribute to a political candidate, for example, that you loathe can keep your motivation to achieve
STEP 4: Write down your RELEVANT goal and create your plan
Studies show that people who write down their goals with clear plans are more likely to achieve them. Depending on the timeline you set, it can be easy to get off track and it's essential to have a guidepost to keep you from getting lost. However, life circumstances can change, so regularly review your plan and your actions to see if they align with your life. You may need to adjust some things accordingly. If you set a goal of squatting 50 more pounds 6 months from March 1 of 2020, you can see where there might be an issue.
STEP 5: Make the goal TIME BOUND
Set a specific time frame or deadline for achieving your goal. Having a target date creates a sense of urgency and helps you stay focused. Be realistic here. Don’t give yourself 1 week to lose 10 pounds but don’t go to the other extreme and say a year. It has to be challenging but realistic.
BONUS STEP: Yell it to the heavens
This isn’t technically part of the SMART criteria, but it is one that I have found incredibly beneficial for compliance and goal attainment. Tell trusted friends and loved ones what your goal is and when you plan to achieve it. By telling lots of people, you will have a support and accountability network, which means you will be more likely to succeed
This is the exact process I use with clients and it always yields greater results than any other means I have tried.
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