Last week I shared with you the first year of my get fit journey (364 Days Since My Journey Began). I want to spend the next couple weeks delving in a little deeper and share with you how I was able to accomplish it.
I knew the first thing I needed to do was figure out exactly what my goal was. I knew for me it wasn’t about a number on a scale or the number on the tag of my jeans. For me it was about feeling better and being healthy, but what exactly did that mean. How would I know when I accomplished my goal? Enter the idea of a SMART goal. SMART goals have proven to help people stick to their goals for the long haul.
So, what is a SMART goal? SMART goals are: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. I am a firm believer that setting a goal for yourself in any area of your life keeping these five things in mind will help you make any dream a reality!
Let’s start from the beginning with making your goal SPECIFIC. Having a broad goal such as “lose weight” or “get healthy” sound good but you need something a little more concrete so you can have some sense of exactly what you are working toward.
To help come up with a specific goal it is helpful to think of the “What”, “When” and “How” of your goal. “getting healthy” was my endgame but what exactly does that look like? I knew I needed something more specific that I could track, measure my progress and would ultimately represent “getting healthy” to me.
I had been thinking about becoming a “runner” for quite some time but I was in no condition to run for more than 10 seconds at a time. So, that became the “What” of my goal. I decided that running a 5K would represent “getting healthy” for me.
Next I moved on to the “When”. Being in a state that can get darn cold in the winter and having never run a mile in my life I set my eyes on spring. I knew that would give me the time I needed to work toward that 5K without trying to push myself too far too fast.
Lastly, the “How”. I was pretty much starting out at zero so I knew that I was going to have to start slow and work my way up. So I decided to start with using my lunch break at work to go for a walk 3 days a week. After a month of that I downloaded the “C25K” app for my phone and used that as my guide to lead me to being able to run a 5K.
Once you have a SPECIFIC goal in mind you need to make sure that it is MEASURABLE. You have to have a way to measure your progress. If you can’t see yourself progressing you are very likely to give up and quit. Measuring my progress was pretty easy as I was using the “C25K” app at the time and was able to see myself running longer each time I used the app.
Next up is making sure your goal is ATTAINABLE. While it is good to think big when goal setting if you make goal too big you’ll set yourself up for failure. You need to be honest with yourself and ask yourself if you really believe you can achieve it and you have the resources available to you to accomplish it. You need to make sure that your goal falls in line with your priorities. Part of this for me was family time. I don’t get to spend the amount of time with my family that I would like as it is. I was not willing to give up time with my family to do this. For me that meant getting up before the family, hitting the gym on my lunch hour and going to bed after everyone else.
Your goal also needs to be RELEVANT. Your goal has to be meaningful to you and fit with your lifestyle. If I hated running and I had decided to make running a 5K my goal I never would have stuck with it. You need to ask yourself why you want to reach your goal. The reasons why you want to achieve your goal are going to provide you with the momentum and inspiration you need when the going gets tough, and it will get tough!
Lastly, your goal needs to be TIMELY. You really can’t gauge your progress and tweak your approach if you don’t have a deadline in mind. This will also help to hold you accountable. I would have days where I just didn’t want to go out and run but I knew that I would feel good once I did it and having that end date in mind and knowing if I didn’t get out there I was setting myself up to fail really helped keep me motivated.
Once you have your SMART goal all set and you are working towards it make sure to check in now and then and see if you need to make any adjustments to help you along the way.
Just in case you are wondering, I did accomplish my goal and ran my first 5K in March of this year. I now have several under my belt and have set my sights on the next goal which is to run a 10K. My 10K is coming up next month and I have been hard at work training for it!
Good luck reaching your goals whatever they may be!