Oh how I love setting goals. To me, it is just as much fun as planning a vacation. You get an inkling of somewhere new and exciting to go explore, dig out the old road atlas, and create a path to get there. Now you have a solid plan. A goal. Don’t let the word goal frighten you (scares the heck out of many folks!), all it means is you have a plan for something.
Once we have completed our initial assessment on readiness to change by working the stages of change model, Motivation: Part 1, we may have determined we are either in the preparation stage or the action stage. If this is the case for you, it’s time to get a solid goal statement prepared. I know, it freaked me too out at first. After years of using the SMART goal model, I find it fairly easy to write out a solid goal and get after it.
Many of us have dreams, aspirations, things we want to do and accomplish in this lifetime. And for many, they stay out in the abstract, a vague idea of what ought to be done. But we never get around to fluffing that dream out into an actual goal. For many people, again, such as myself, we simply were never taught how to do this, or we were taught in a way that did not jive with us.
Many times, when I ask a client what it is they want to achieve, it comes in the form of something like this:
I want to lose weight.
I want to get healthy
I want more energy
Worthy dreams to be sure, but very sloppy goals. I cannot create a solid training plan from statements such as these. Tell me exactly what you want, and I will do my best to get you there. And if the client can’t nail this down, then our first session is spent working together to get the goal where we need it to be. So it works for both of us. Please note this method works for any goal; health, financial, intellectual, spiritual, social, or emotional growth. Any of those six topics are all considered part of the wellness model I work with.
Just as the stages of change model provides us a foundation, the SMART goal setting method provides us a framework to get that goal stated once and for all. SMART goal setting was one of the first things I learned in trainer/health coach classes. And I have used it ever since. Let’s get started with your goal!
S.M.A.R.T. is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. I will explain these and then use a couple of examples so you can see the process in work.
Specific-this means get to the details. We all want to be healthy, who wants disease? Who, what, where, why (why is a very important question. spend a lot of time here.)
Measurable-if your goal is measurable, then measure it. You need to find a way to measure the goal with targets and milestones to ensure you are moving in the right direction.
Attainable-is this a doable goal? What resources might be needed? Don’t forget time constraints! Can you handle being out of your comfort zone? Can the goal be broken down into small goals? Personally, I never met a goal that couldn’t.
Realistic-is this the right time, is the goal in line with long-term objectives, can my body do this? If your goal is unrealistic, you may be setting yourself up for failure.
Timely-what is the time frame? Goals are not open-ended. Every goal should be limited by time.
Base dream-I want to get healthy.
Through some work we finalize a goal with a framework something like this:
I would like to improve my overall health by losing 10 lbs and lowering my blood pressure by 10 points so I have the stamina to keep up with my grandkids. I will utilize weekly weigh-ins and blood pressure readings which I will record in a journal to to measure my progress. I will break my goal of weight loss into 2 smaller goals of 5lbs each. I will achieve my goal by keeping a food journal to track my eating and identify any triggers for overeating. I will work with my trainer 2 x’s a week, and do two workouts on my own for 8 weeks.
Ahhh, that’s better. Now, as a trainer, I have some really good stuff to work with. I tell Sally, “Let’s get it!” And with a goal like that no doubt, she will!
Maybe your goal is financial. You design some really sweet-looking jewelry, and everyone is always telling you to sell it commercially. Base dream-I want to sell my jewelry to people
I would like to sell my jewelry both online and at local craft shows to create some extra income. I will create a website by xx/xx/xx to showcase and market my designs. I will sign up to be a vendor at the local springtime craft show on xx/xx/xx. I will revisit this goal in 6 months and reset/realign my jewelry business goals.
It takes time, yes, it takes effort, but you can very easily see the difference between a fuzzy dream and a solid goal. With the concrete goal, you have your framework. And once it’s there…well, by golly, you are ready to go.
One last note. When writing your goal, don’t worry and agonize (oh, the time people waste agonizing…) that it’s not perfect. The first goal I wrote was not perfect. But the second one was better, and I continue to get better. Practice, just like granny said, makes perfect.
Please feel free to ask me any questions by replying to my blog, if there is something you do not understand or you just need a bit of direction.