Have you made a goal to becoming healthier, only to find yourself discouraged and unable to follow through on your commitment?
Setting goals is a necessary step in the process of eating healthier, losing weight, or improving your fitness. But if you don't consciously create thought out, attainable goals, you'll most likely set out with the best intentions—only to fall short a few days, weeks, or months later.
This can be frustrating for anyone, especially if you generally consider yourself a motivated and committed person.
So if you want to achieve your goals, you have to take a different approach. And there's no better way to do so than to follow the S.M.A.R.T. goal setting process:
Specific: Setting specific goals allows you to focus on what you need to do to actually attain that goal, rather than on the bigger picture.
For example, "I want to become healthier and lose weight" is too vague. Try picking one or two limited goals instead, such as: "I want to go to an exercise class three times a week and quit eating in front of the TV."
Measurable: Making your goals measurable is a crucial step in the goal setting process. A measurable goal establishes concrete criteria that allow you to keep track your progress—so you'll actually know when you reach your goal.
So don't give yourself an out and say "I want to run more." Instead, try making distinct goals like, "I want to run 20 miles a week," or "I want to eat three servings of vegetables a day."
Hitting benchmarks and attaining measurable goals will give you greater confidence and a feeling of success. And most importantly, it will help you keep on track.
Action Steps: If you have a goal but have no idea how to reach it, you're probably not going to succeed.
So instead of creating an unattainable goal, try to come up with a list of action steps and resources that will allow you to reach your goal. If your goal is to lose five pounds by next summer, you're going to need to make a plan of how to accomplish that.
Will you focus on portion sizes at meals, or substitute your normal afternoon snack of chips and dip for fresh vegetables?
How about committing to an exercise class three times a week? Taking the dog out for an extra half an hour walk a day?
Figure out the steps that will support your goal and stick to them.
Realistic: Setting unrealistic goals is the fastest way to not follow through on your commitments. Your goals should be challenging, but ultimately attainable.
So if you love to eat, setting a goal of sticking to 1,300 calories a day is probably unrealistic for you. So is a goal of fitting into size two skinny jeans if you've always had a pear-shaped body.
Instead, try to pick goals like limiting the amount of sweets you eat each week or working toward a lower body fat percentage. Goals like these won't be easy, but they're ultimately attainable.
Time-Based: Setting a deadline of when you want to achieve your goals creates a sense of urgency and pushes you to work toward your goal today.
You can set goals in short time frames (i.e. lose two pounds this month) or long time frames (run a half marathon by the end of next year). Either way, giving your goals a timeline makes them a priority. And when you make something a priority, you're a lot less likely to give up on it.
Krista Stryker is a direct response copywriter and personal trainer with a love for all things health and fitness. See what else she writes about at her website or personal development blog, or follow her on twitter.