Fitness Education: How to Write SMART Goals

When we want to achieve something, often what is in our mind is the outcome and not the process of getting there.  The outcome could be losing weight, sleeping better, writing a book, or decluttering your living space.  How do we get there?  The first step is to create a vision. 

Ask yourself, if you could dream big without anything holding you back, what would that look like for you? How do you see yourself? What support systems do you have in place to achieve your vision?  Is it a friend, family member, or significant other?  Do you have an environment conducive to accomplishing what you want?  Or, do you have to create that environment or seek it?  How would you overcome challenges that could potentially sideline your progress?

Write down your vision so you can see it on paper.  Seeing what you write down can help to reinforce your commitment.  In order to achieve your vision and make it a reality, small actionable steps have to happen, which is a part of the process.  This is where SMART goals come in.

S-M-A-R-T is an acronym that stands for specific, measurable, actionable, realistic and time bound.

Specific:  Goals must state what is specifically going to get done and cannot be vague.  For example, instead of saying I want to do more strength training, set a specific goal that states: “I will strength train three times per week, for 30 minutes per session with my cousin Jean.”

Measurable:  How will you measure what you do to evaluate your progress?  Is it the number of minutes spent, days per week, how well your clothing fits or your body composition?

Actionable:  What specific actions and behaviors will you engage in to increase your levels of success? Is it walking or strength training?  Going to bed earlier?    Is it decluttering one drawer in your living space? Is it information gathering from viewing videos or reading the blog posts on Home Base’s Operation Health@Home website?

Realistic:  A goal should be attainable to increase the chances of success.  For example, if it has been 3 years since you have been exercising regularly, walking 6 days per week for 1 hour a day would not be advisable and could increase the risk of injury.  Perhaps starting with fewer sessions per week for a shorter time is more realistic.  In this case, a more realistic amount would be to walk three days per week for 30 minutes per session on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays during your lunch hour.

Time-Bound:  What are the specific timelines for completion?  Timelines can be short-term and long-term to help keep you on track.  For example:

Not a SMART goal: “I will stretch.”

A SMART goal: “I will stretch for ten minutes every Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday Evening at 8:30 pm before bed.”

The bottom line is using the S-M-A-R-T approach to achieving your goals can be a helpful way to take small, specific, actionable, and realistic steps to reach your vision and can be applied to many aspects of your life.  Give it a try and carve out your path to success!

References:

1. Moore, M., E. Jackson, and B, Tschannen-Moran.  Coaching Psychology Manual, 2nd ed.  Philadelphia, PA:  Wolters Kluwer. 2016
2. https://www.acefitness.org/education-and-resources/lifestyle/blog/6673/reaching-your-goals-the-smart-way/   

If you have questions about our fitness and wellness programs at Home Base – please reach out to us! Visit homebase.org/fitness to learn more about our Warrior Health & Fitness Programs, and don’t forget to follow us on social media at @homebaseprogram.


About the Author: Marlene DaCosta, MA, ACSM-CEP, CSCS, CHWC is an Exercise Physiologist and Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist with Home Base’s Intensive Clinical Program and Warrior Health and Fitness Program. She is also the owner and founder of Serape Fitness and Wellness, a business that provides in-home personal training and health and wellness coaching services to private clients in the Greater Boston Area.