Goal setting. Have you ever truly given it a shot? Or do you just jump right into life with 0 plan? In this blog post, learn why goal setting is important as well as how to go about setting SMART goals the right way.
Why set goals? What is the point? Well… Why are you living your life? What are you living for? What do you want out of life? What do you want for other people? For your family, friends, neighbors? Goal setting not only helps you get to where you want to be, but it makes you think about what you want, why you want it, and how you want to get it. It helps you come up with realistic expectations of yourself and the rest of the world and keeps you on track traveling down the winding paths called life. There are a few reasons why I implement goal setting as a tool for myself and for all my clients. Setting time aside to reflect on what you want helps you focus more on what you need/want out of life and why. Sometimes we say we want something, and then when we delve into the ‘why’ we realize that we actually want something else.
Writing your goals down helps to make them feel more real and makes you more likely to act on them. Imagine writing your goal down every single morning. You would be much more focused on the task at hand – whatever that is, and you would be more inclined to act in line with those goals. This is why some people practice saying mantras or setting intentions for the day. Once you have come up with a goal, you can then create a tangible plan on how to get there. Goal setting helps you sort everything out; from planning out the steps, to tracking the progress you’ve made. Having goals gives you a reason to strive in life, a reason to keep going, something to look forward to.
If I have not yet sold you on goal setting, think about this: You will achieve 0% of the goals you don’t make. Sure, you can work hard in life, workout consistently, try your best to be a great friend, citizen, significant other, parent, etc. But to what end? If you set more realistic, tangible goals like “I want to workout x days per week,” “I want to make time to see friends once a week,” “I want to make x income per year,” “I want to compete in powerlifting/bodybuilding/crossfit/marathon running/etc.,” “I want to get stronger/faster/fitter/more powerful,” “I want to spend more quality time with my children” “I want to feel safe, happy and supported in a romantic relationship” “I want to be able to help as many people as I can with ____,” … You get it. These are so much more tangible. They give you much more focus. From there you can come up with more specific goals. Goals like “I want to squat x” or “I want to lose/gain x lbs” or “I want x job”. This is how you get started on providing focus/organization to your life.
But how do I go about this? First off, sit down with a cup of coffee/tea/whatever you enjoy, a pencil, and a book to write in. This is your “Big book of goals.” Secondly, write what you want out of life. What do you dream of? What do you love? What are you good at? I actually did this with a Lululemon workbook that an amazing woman lent me and it changed the perspective I had on my own life and how I was going about things. Ask yourself, “What sets my soul on fire?” “What excites me?” Use this information to highlight what you want. Then, set some solid goals to get you there. You want to be healthy and happy and have more energy? Okay, how can you get there? Are you currently working out? Are you eating properly? Are you taking care of your mental health? Are you making time for yourself? This is where SMART goals come in.
Here are some examples of general goals: Desires to feel better, lose weight, gain weight, get stronger, increase strength, improve mood, improve sleep, improve nutrition, feel good about body/self, improve mental health, make more money, increase job satisfaction, become more grateful/happy, decrease pain, increase health, be a better friend, sibling, parent, significant other, adventure more, start working out, increase activity, etc. There are so many options!
Here are some of mine: 1. Get better at CrossFit – gain experience with competing with heavier weights at higher speeds and more advanced gymnastics.
2. Health - Physical/mental health – continue to grow inside and out. Improve sleep for physical health.
3. Business; Expand my business model – Offer multiple tiers of service and work to help more people. Expand my reach. Become a better coach – continue to learn and be challenged
4. Adventure more with friends and learn to shut off, have fun and enjoy my life.
These are extremely specific to me, and we can then get into even more specifics. This can get overwhelming if you set too many goals, because delving into each one properly can take some time. Usually, I get my clients to come up with 3 main goals over the course of 12 weeks in order from most to least important. These 3 goals follow the SMART Rule.
SMART Goals. Once you have sat down and really hashed out what you generally want to achieve, it’s time to set some goals to get you there. You want to set these goals using the SMART Rule. You want these goals to be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely.
First off, S – Specific. What do you want? Be specific and clear. You want to lose weight? How much? Gain weight? How much? Get stronger? Why and in what and specify how – overall strength, leg strength? Squats? Deadlifts? Pullups? For Sports? Reduce your risk of injury in hockey, soccer, etc.? Be specific. Do you want to get a job? Where? In what? Make a list of the places you want to work. Figure out how to get there. General goals are great to get you started but specific goals help you path it out.
Here are some examples: I want to lose/gain 10lbs I want to increase my squat by 20lbs I want to learn to deadlift without back pain (move better) I want to workout 3 days a week I want to travel twice a year I want to spend time with friends once a week I want to try one new thing a month I want to sleep 7-8 hours per night I want to learn how to Olympic lift I want to start doing yoga 2 x / week I want to own my own business doing ______. I want to work in healthcare. I want to make 4000$ per month. I want to journal 1x/week I want to see a therapist/counsellor regularly.
Using myself as an example, I’ll choose 3 goals that I want to focus on for the next 12 weeks. I can either set 3 goals in one category like CrossFit (example: “Learn how to do butterfly pullups, learn how to do ring muscle ups, and snatch 145lbs) or I could prioritize 3 of my main categories like CrossFit, Business, and Mental health and set one goal in each of them. I also have A LOT of goals. It gets overwhelming sometimes. By the end of January, I am planning to be finished hashing each of them out into little sections. In this scenario for the sake of my fun “do it all” life, I will choose one from each of my main categories.
These are specific goals set from my general goals above: 1. CrossFit – Learn how to get a ring muscle up 2. Business – Expand my reach and offer multiple tiers of training – Blog posts 2x/month, create PDF’s. Start a Youtube channel/podcast. 3. Health – Journal 1x / week while going through my workbook on self development.
Next, you want your goals to be M - Measurable. Make sure that there is a way you can measure your goal. This will help you keep track of whether or not you are getting where you want to be and will help you tackle barriers along the way. Example – you plan on working out 3 times per week, but you have only hit 1 workout per week for the past 2-3 weeks. Being able to measure this will help you identify the fact that you are NOT hitting your goals and make it easier for you to re-assess them, identify barriers, and come up with solutions to help you overcome them. When the opposite happens and you DO stay on track (hitting your workouts 3x/week for a 2-3 weeks), looking back and feeling the sense of accomplishment that comes with succeeding can help motivate/inspire us to keep going! You want to set a goal in a way that you can measure/track it. Whether that is the days/week that you are partaking in x action, or the $ you have saved up each week/month from not buying coffee, measuring progress is important in determining if you are getting closer or further away from your goals.
Here are some examples: Keeping track of how many days a week you are working out Keeping track of how much weight you are losing/gaining Monitoring the weights you are using in your workouts, are they going up/down/the same? Monitoring your sleep Keeping a calendar and checking off the days you did ____ task (Ie. Workout, spend time with friends, get ___ sleep, etc.) Journaling regularly and noticing whether or not your mood/state is improving.
And here are some examples of how my goals are/can be measured: 1. CrossFit – Work on ring muscle up drills/transitions/strength at least once a week. I can keep track of this each week by planning on doing them every Monday and Thursday in my workouts. If I start missing these parts of my workouts, then I can re-evaluate. I can also look at the strength in my transitions as I progress and improve, measuring this helps me know when it’s time to progress to harder drills.
2. Business – Expand my reach. Keep track of followers and impressions on Instagram, how many clients I have and people I have helped, etc. Checking in every week to make sure I am working on my blog posts (Set Every Friday/Saturday). Starting a list of PDF’s, I want to make – releasing one a month, working on it every week (Tuesdays or Wednesdays).
3. Journal once a week every Wednesday, to reflect on how I feel and why. Check it off on a calendar every week. If I miss Wednesdays, make it a mandatory for Saturday nights.
Next up, you want to make sure your goals are A- Attainable. Are they realistic given your current situation? Are they manageable? Are you setting goals with consideration of your environment, starting point, support system, knowledge, etc.? A great example would be setting a goal to learn how to Olympic lift in January but not having access to weights because gyms are closed. A little counter productive. Another one would be expecting a 100lbs increase in your squat in 1 year when you only increased it by 15lbs the year before and you’ve been working out for 5-6+ years already. Or losing 30 pounds in 30 days when you only have 30-40 pounds to lose. OR gaining 30lbs of muscle in your 4th year of working out when you have been sitting around the same weight for the past 1-2 years and working out regularly. The biggest tip that I can provide here is to start small. You can always build and add more as you go! But if you are thinking long term, set some more smaller, shorter term, realistic and attainable goals to get you to your bigger one.
Examples for my case: 1. CrossFit – Ring muscle up – Master ring lockouts, then ring dips, ring pullups, transitions while standing, banded muscle ups, etc. Working on things I can work on while in my apartment makes this a realistic goal, at least for now.
2. Business – start small. 2 blog posts a month, 1 PDF per month, etc. continuing to grow and be consistent. Eventually I can add to this and maybe start a YouTube channel and/or podcast by the end of the 12 weeks, but it’s better to think big and start small to yield success and build some momentum first.
3. Health – journal once a week, maybe eventually twice a week, maybe eventually daily. Getting into the habit of doing this regularly can help unwind and reflect on our own thoughts and emotions, but sometimes it is about making the time and building slowly.
Two more rules for SMART goals; R and T. You want to check that your goals R relevant (haha get it). This goes hand in hand with being attainable/realistic, except it is more about what you want in your life. Check in with yourself to see if your goals are actually important to you. Remember when I said, “Sometimes we say we want something, and then when we delve into the ‘why’ we realize that in reality, we actually want something else.” It’s good to reflect. Do you want to lose weight because you want to get healthier? Or because you want to feel better in your skin? Do you instead maybe need to work on more inner stuff like loving yourself first so that you can make these lasting changes out of care instead of hate? You also want to make sure that your goals are relevant to your current situations/areas in life. Saying “I want to squat 300lbs” but you are a competitive record-breaking marathon runner, this goal is not truly relevant to your sport. It is not a goal that is inline with your main goal. Finding goals specific to the base reasoning to what you want in life, relevant to what you want/need/and have access to, that will help you become more successful. My current goals are extremely relevant to my situation and what I have access to. Due to COVID, I have shifted a lot of my efforts to online services and the extra time that I have is being put towards writing this blog and starting other little projects. I have also re-evaluated and prioritized my mental health and taking time to make sure that I am taking care of myself. And I've adapted the "RX" mindset of training with that goal in mind - with the focus being on maintaining as much as I can and potentially even progressing in different ways.
Last rule, you want your goal to be T- Timely. Set some realistic timeframes for yourself to accomplish your goals. This motivates us to keep moving forward on the days we don’t want to. Having an end date in sight can help us keep track a little bit better. This can be a timeframe of 10 years, 5 years, 1 year, 6 months, 12 weeks, 4 weeks, etc. Setting goals for the year and then implementing smaller goals on a month or 12 week scale provides an opportunity to re-evaluate every quarter and set new goals every month to get one step closer. You want your timeframes/deadlines for each goal to be realistic. Again, start small and work your way up.
Last set of examples: 1. CrossFit – lockout holds for 2 weeks, then dips and pullups for 2-3 weeks, then transitions for 2-3 weeks, then other drills, 2-3 weeks at a time of practicing, maybe more or less depending on how quickly I get used to them. Goal – Ring Muscle up by June 2021 (unless gyms do not open, then I’ll be re-evaluating after I hit everything I can at home and changing them up)
2. 12 weeks from now I want 3 PDF’s made, 6 Blog posts, and I want to have started and released one episode on my Youtube channel and/or Podcast
3. In 12 weeks from now I want to be able to journal 2-3 x / week (work my way up to it, 1x/week for one month, then 2x/week, then 3).
There you have it folks. SMART goal setting. Now that you have read this whole post, I would love to hear your goals! Give it a shot! And remember, a fail to plan is a plan to fail. Think, Plan, and execute. Start small and stay consistent. Learn along the way, make mistakes, fall down and get right back up again! If you try this out, Send me an email firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know what your goals are for the next 12 weeks to a year, OR send me a message on Instagram @Mercedes_Fitness or Facebook (Mercedes Wyenberg).
Thanks for reading 😊 Keep on keeping on,