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Being “SMART”—the Secret to Goal Setting

By Derrick Colvin, Health Coach

If you’ve ever said you wanted to make a change or achieve a new goal but your plans never came to fruition, you’re just like the rest of us. We’ve all been in that position before but we don’t have to be. Even the strongest will to succeed may only get you so far. When you add SMART goals to your motivation, then you’re really on the track to win.

What’s a SMART goal and how can you set one?

The acronym SMART refers to goals that are specific, measurable, action-oriented, realistic and time-bound. Here’s an example of how you can identify a smart goal:

  • Specific: Clearly identify your desired outcome such as losing weight, quitting tobacco or exercising more.
  • Measurable: Indicate objective ways to track your progress such losing 10 pounds, cutting out one cigarette per week or walking five times a week for 15 minutes.
  • Action-oriented: Specify what actions you will take such as taking stairs instead of the elevator or drinking a glass of water instead of reaching for a cigarette. Make sure the actions directly lead to your desired outcome.
  • Realistic: Break your long-term goal into short-term ones that are more readily achievable and that will keep you motivated. So, instead of focusing on losing 50 pounds, work on losing one or two pounds per week. Remember, the small goal you meet is better than the big goal you abandon.
  • Time-bound: Set start and end dates for every goal. When the end date arrives, you can reflect and adjust if necessary to continue your forward progress.

In putting it all together, we can see the difference in these two goals:

  1. I will start running to lose weight.
  2. For the month of January, I will run every Monday, Wednesday and Friday for 30 minutes to promote four pounds of weight loss.

The first goal is vague and lacks the details needed to keep me accountable. With the second goal, I have actions I can track and obligations to go along with them.

So, the next time you’re feeling motivated to make a change, write your goals out in SMART format and set yourself up for success!

Derrick’s Education and Certifications
Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science
ACSM Physical Activity in Public Health Specialist
AFPA Certified Nutrition and Wellness Consultant

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