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Goal Setting - How Does It Work

Updated: Apr 26, 2021

Have you ever set a goal? How about a SMART goal? Now ask yourself if you understand just how important they are and how to apply them correctly. I often ask my clients what their goals are and they will reply with answer such as “get fitter” or “lose weight”. These are very common, but very general goals and I will have to get them to delve a little deeper to increase their chances of success. So, lets apply the “lose weight” goal to the SMART goals process.

SMART stands for – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timed.

1. Specific – How much weight do you want to lose? Is it just body fat you are looking to reduce? Will you achieve this through diet, exercise or both?

2. Measurable – How will you monitor your results? Scales, measurements, callipers, clothe sizes? How regularly will you monitor your progress? What time of day will you do this? What clothes will you be wearing?

3. Attainable – Is your goal realistic? Can you achieve your goal?

4. Relevant – Why are you doing this? Your goal needs to have meaning to you, so what are the benefits you will get from achieving it?

5. Timed – When do you want to achieve this by and is it a realistic time frame?

An example of a SMART weight loss goal would be: “I would like to lose 1 stone of body fat by exercising 3 times a week and eating a balanced diet of 1400kcal daily (which is 500kcals less than I require). I will log my calories using an app, weigh myself once a week on a Monday morning at home wearing the same clothes each time and take calliper measurements of my body fat with my trainer once every 4 weeks. I will lose this weight over a 20-week period and by achieving this my diabetes will have less of an impact on my life and I will be able to control it better and reduce some of the risks it is likely to cause me by not.”

This goal is Specific (1 stone weight loss), Measurable (Calorie logging, scales and callipers), Attainable (1 stone weight loss in 20 weeks works out at less than 1 lbs a week), Relevant (improving diet, increasing exercise and reducing body fat and blood sugar levels to a normal amount will have a positive outcome on your health) and Timed (20 weeks to achieve this).

As you can see there is a lot more to goal setting than just “I want to lose weight”. Understanding the process will ultimately increase your chances of success. People tend to focus only on their end goal or “outcome goal”, but not the smaller “process goals” that allow you to achieve this. It gives you a clear structure to follow and allows you to be much more efficient along the way.

Your outcome goal is important to have, it is what the result of your hard work will be when you achieve your long-term goal. The process goals are how you will achieve this. What exercises are you going to do? How often can you train? What changes will you make to your diet? You can apply these process and outcome goals to your SMART goal setting and break it all down into short-, medium- and long-term goals. The long-term goal in my example above is to lose 1 stone in 20 weeks. A short-term goal may be to lose 0.5-2lbs a week. A medium-term goal may be to have lost 7lbs by the 10-week point.

We all do this to some extent or another in our everyday lives, whether it be at work, home, or leisure, we just don’t realise it. For example, have you ever written a to do list? Outcome goal is its completion, process goals are the tasks, however, as soon as we are out of our comfort zones these processes go out the window. So next time you set yourself a goal, why not apply the following recommendations:

· Take time in setting your goals and apply the SMART process.

· Focus more on your process goals but don’t forget about your outcome goal.

· Your short-term goals are separate goals from your long-term goal.

· Your long-term goal will give your short-term goals purpose.

· Through achieving your short-term goals, you can build on success and a winning mentality.

· Take pride in your achievements when you complete a goal.

· Once you complete your long term goal, reassess and decide what your next goal will be.

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