Ok, let’s be honest. How many of us decide to set a new goal in january and have every intention to follow through with it but always seem to slip back into old habits and so we feel as though we have “failed”, beat ourselves up about it and then give up on our resolution altogether?
You too, huh?
I used to do this all the time and I’d see it in the people around me too. Goals or desires were set like “I want to lose weight” or “I’m going to be happier”.
But there are major flaws in these statements and although, on the surface, we think they state what we want, but do they? Really?
Let’s take the popular “I want to lose weight” or “I want to get into shape” goals. How is this measured?
What does “in shape” really mean?
How much weight do you want to lose?
When will you know you’ve reached your goal?
If your goal is to lose weight, theoretically speaking, you could have a poo and then once you step back on the scales they will have a lighter reading than before your toilet time.
But that’s not really what you meant is it? Of course it’s not.
Ok, so now that we know what you don’t want, let’s look into how you can set SMARTER goals to get what you do want, achieve your goals and shine like the fabulous star that you are.
It has become quite common for people to set SMART goals, but if you follow this SMARTER goal formula, you’ll be much more likely to succeed.
I’m going to use the example of losing weight, but feel free to adapt these steps into your own desires and goals.
What is a SMARTER goal?
Step 1 “S” Specific
As I said above, you have to get specific about your goals. “I want to lose weight” doesn’t cut it because we all have different ideas about “ideal weights” and what would make us feel confident.
Firstly, as the old saying goes, “‘I want’ never gets.” Be specific with your language. When setting a goal, “I want” shouldn’t be the start of the goal. “I’m going to”, “I’m working towards” or even better, “I will” are much better ways to reprogram your mind to think of success.
Ideally, you need to specify how much weight you’d like to lose, by what date and what the scales would read so that anyone could turn up on that date and read the scales you stood upon and the goal would either be achieved, or not.
Also, how are you going to lose weight? Are you going to reduce your calories? Eat cleaner? Increase your physical exercise? Join a group of people on a specific diet plan with like-minded people?
A goal like “I want to lose weight” doesn’t have the same effect as “I’m going to lose 3 stone by 31st december 2019 making my weight 13 stone.”
Step 2 “M” Meaningful
It’s all well and good having these goals and getting specific, but you have to also be clear about what the goal means to you. Who are you doing it for? If you’re not doing it for yourself, first and foremost, then chances are you won’t be motivated to take the necessary action.
Ask yourself what you will gain from achieving this goal. Ask yourself why it’s important to you and what you are hoping to feel once you have achieved it is really important.
Finding your “why” when goal setting helps you to stay focused and provides motivation should you fall off track or need to course-correct your goal.
Your why could look something like this… “I’m going to lose 3 stone by 31st December 2019 making my weight 13 stone because I want to feel confident in my body and feel sexy, I want to wear nice clothes that make me feel good and I want to be in good health so that I can run around and play with my grandchildren”
Step 3 “A” Achievable
This might seem pretty obvious, but you may be surprised by how many of us set ourselves goals or deadlines that are completely unachievable.
Having high standards and aiming big is great. But don’t set yourself up to fail by aiming for something unachievable. That’s not to say you could never achieve it, but maybe you need to look at your time-frame or perhaps you’d need to sacrifice something else in your life that you’re really not keen on.
For example, let’s say that you decided you were going to run 3 miles five times a week and in under 20 minutes each time, but the closest thing to running that you do is running late, well, it’s just not achievable. At least, not at this stage that you’re at.
Work up to that by all means, but you need to remember where you are currently, what tools and resources you have at your disposal as well as remembering what else is important to you in life that you’re not willing to sacrifice.
Start where you are.
If you’re aiming to lose X lbs by Y date, how many lbs is that per week? Does this sound achievable?
Step 4 “R” Realistic/Relevant
It’s not relevant to run 5k every morning and doing nothing else if you want to build muscle tone in your arms.
It’s not realistic to go to the gym 6 nights a week if you’ve got no one to look after your children.
This step is about checking in with yourself and see if this goal will in any way jeopardize the key aspects of your life that you hold dear. It’s about checking in that this goal is in line with who you are and doesn’t go against your values or beliefs. If it does, you may have to adjust certain things or you may have to reevaluate altogether.
If you want to do intermittent fasting, but you’re diabetic, maybe that’s not the right route for you.
If you decide to not eat carbs but you deeply believe that a full, balanced diet, including carbs, is the healthiest option, perhaps you need to reevaluate how you will structure your diet.
This step is where your ego likes to kick in and make excuses about why you can’t, and who do you think you are and blah blah blah. When you catch yourself having these thoughts, smile and know that you’re on the right track. You’re challenging your comfort zone and this can feel scary for a short time, but wouldn’t it feel wonderful to achieve your goal?
Step 5 “T” Time-Frame
As I said above, putting a date on a goal gives a better success rate. This is because vague goals lead to vague results. By putting a date on it, it allows you to constantly reassess how you’re doing and if you need some more motivation and determination or if you went way too easy on yourself and are absolutely smashing it.
Look at the below statements:
“I’m going to lose 3 stone making my weight 13 stone.”
“I’m going to lose 3 stone by 31st december 2019 making my weight 13 stone.”
By putting a deadline on the goal, it gives a sense of urgency. There’s a theoretical countdown timer constantly decreasing so it motivates us to take action.
The first statement doesn’t give the same effect, and like most of us do, we allow ourselves to become complacent because we believe we have all the time in the world to achieve the things we want in life.
I wish you all a long, happy, healthy and prosperous life. However, many of us know that unfortunately not all of us are guaranteed that.
Even if you are lucky enough to have that, how many times have you heard that someone on their deathbed wished they’d watched more TV? I’ve never heard that. It’s always that they wished they’d taken more action and cared less what others think. It’s important that we learn from our own lessons in life, but we can also learn from other people’s lives and experiences.
Step 6 “E” Evaluate
Many people know the SMART ways to set goals so stop their goal setting with “T”, Time-Frame, but the SMARTER way, is less known and if you apply it, you’re putting yourself at the forefront of success.
Evaluating your goals on a regular basis is so logical, yet few of us do it. Setting time to reflect monthly, weekly or daily can help you assess where you can make improvements and where you can afford to be a bit more lenient.
This step also allows us to consistently gather all the facts about what has happened up until this point and it allows us to constantly start with a “fresh page” so-to-speak. Which leads us to the final step, “R”…
Step 7 “R” Readjust
You’re so nearly there and I just want to congratulate you for getting to this point. It shows real determination and desire within you.
When you evaluate your goals, it gives you the opportunity to readjust and tweak certain aspects of your goal and even plan ahead for potential pitfalls.
If you haven’t been going to your exercise classes and your diet has been less than ideal, ok. Acknowledge it and find ways to prevent it happening again, or perhaps you would like to allow yourself a “cheat day” once a week.
If you have a dinner date planned with the girls, look at the menu online beforehand so you can work out how you can eat delicious food but still be on plan with your goals. Or could you suggest a restaurant that you know offers healthy food that’s inline with your goal?
If you’re finding that you’re too tired to go to the gym after work, perhaps you could try to incorporate a workout into your morning routine? Wake up an hour earlier and go to bed an hour earlier?
So there you have it.
7 steps to help you achieve your goals.
I know you can do it. You know you can do it, and as there’s no time like the present, get a fresh piece of paper and start writing out your SMARTER goal.