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Monday, January 5, 2009

Are your goals S.M.A.R.T.?

I've often had trouble meeting the goals I set for myself. I start with a bang, but my motivation and energy quickly fizzle as the days and weeks go by. A couple years ago I came across the "SMART" principle of setting goals and it has really helped me out. The acronym stands for:

  • Specific - Is this something that you can physically do? For example, "get fit" is more of a vision than a goal. You can't get up, do some magical action and then say, "OK, I'm fit". On the other hand, you can commit to physically go to the gym at 9am every morning and work out for 30 minutes. You can commit to eating only one dessert a week, on Saturday. The more specific your goal is, the easier it is to follow-through on.
  • Measurable - How will you know when you've met your goal? On traineo we have measurable weight goals to help you see if you're actually reaching your target.
  • Attainable - You might want to visit Mars tomorrow, but if you make this a goal you're setting yourself up for failure. It can be energizing to set an ambitious goal for yourself and push your limits. On the other hand, setting an unrealistic goal can sap your motivation and make you feel like a failure.
  • Relevant - Does it matter to you? Why? The practice of writing down the reasons why you want to achieve your goal will help you commit to it and give you the motivation to follow through.
  • Time-boxed - Give yourself a deadline. Otherwise, your goal will be pushed aside as your life inevitably fills with other concerns. It also helps to set frequent, small goals. Meeting these will boost your confidence and give you momentum.

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