By Diana Giraldo | GFC Editor
The SMART principle, which is an acronym for specific, measurable, achievable/adjustable, realistic and timely, can be used for developing strategic fitness related goals.
Many professionals, from Olympic coaches to dietitians, use this tool with their clients, but it is not exclusive to elite professionals or athletes alone, said Miguel Vera, who is certified in applied behavior analysis. Individuals who are beginners and want to effectively start setting a fitness goal can benefit from it as well.
“You can use this tool as a guide to success,” said Vera.
Specific- It is difficult to achieve a goal that is vague. Goals must be specific. If you want to be healthier through exercise you need to ask yourself several questions: how will you do it?; what tools (weights and treadmill) and resources (trainers and information) will you use?; and why work toward that goal?
“Being specific about what your goal is will help put you down a successful path,” Vera said.
Measurable- Goals should be measured. With respect to health and exercise, how will you know when you are healthier or in better shape? Document the ways in which you can specifically measure the success of your goals. For example, is your body feeling lighter or stronger?; are you able to walk or run further distances?, if so, make note.
“By simply documenting your progress your health and fitness growth will be evident to you,” Vera said.
Achievable/Adjustable- Is the goal you are attempting to implement attainable? If you want to lose 20 pounds in one week, that is certainly not attainable, Vera said. However, losing one to two pounds in a week is far more manageable. Keeping your goals within your reach will set you up for success. Adjusting your goals is an important part of the process. This means when things are not going your way, take a step back and evaluate what is not working and adjust it.
Realistic- Is your goal realistic? Will life circumstances allow you to implement your strategies in the way that you would like? For example, if you want to implement 45 minutes to an hour of exercise into your daily life, will your work, family and social life allow you to do so? If not, be realistic with yourself and create a goal that is doable in your lifestyle, Vera said.
Timely- Set a time frame to work with. Highlight your short-term focus and your long-term focus, with an emphasis on the short-term. This will help you to see the progress of your specific, measurable, attainable/adjustable and realistic objectives.
Perhaps the most important element to keep in mind when creating SMART goals is that the journey is more important than the destination, Vera said.
“When putting too much focus on the destination, it can sometimes become overwhelming and contribute to a failure in meeting one’s desired goals,” Vera said. “Enjoy the process and you’ll be more likely to succeed.”