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SMART Goal Setting Tips


“If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.” ~ Jim Rohn

It’s the beginning of a new year or maybe a time for a fresh start and this time you are ready! You’ve taken some time to reflect on the past and what you are now hoping to achieve going forward. Hey it’s goal setting time, whether it be weight loss, improving health, training for an event or a season of racing it’s time to get a focused plan together. Putting it down on paper and having a laid out plan to get there will double the chance of you reaching and checking off each goal. I love this acronym SMART for following a goal setting strategy. This is not unique, I didn’t come up with it, I learned it from a mentor Chalene Johnson but it is something I like to follow and pass along to you.


1. Set SMART goals.

1.) Small

A SMART Goal is a goal than can be broken into small manageable pieces. Remember that movie What about Bob? Love that movie by the way. Well Bob, the main character in the story had all kinds of fears and phobias. His Therapist played by Richard Dreyfuss  taught him to use “baby steps” little victories along the way towards achieving his larger scary goal.   So take your big nasty scary goals for the year and break them up into smaller goals or “baby steps” that can be accomplished in two to four weeks or less.  Choose something that will excite you, make you feel good about what you’ve accomplished, and motivate you to continue moving forward.


2.) Measurable

Each goal you make must have measure.  Could someone be able to determine whether or not you achieved your goal without having to take your word for it? It’s a good idea to put numerical value to your goal. For example  For a fitness goal, this might mean exercising X times per week, or decreasing your body fat to X%. When a goal has measure, you can feel a greater sense of achievement knowing you’ve accomplished it.


3.) Achievable

Ok let’s face it, some goals just are not realistic and there is a difference between what is possible and what is achievable. You must take into consideration what is required to achieve that goal. If you have bad knees or a bad back and running is painful, It’s probably not a good idea to set winning the Boston Marathon or another big race as your goal. Sure it may be attainable but is it realistic? Choose goals that will push you to work hard and are attainable, safe and aligned with your priorities.


4.) Rewarding

Ask yourself, “what are the positive side effects, benefits, and rewards for reaching my goal?” – no matter how small they are!  Sit down, make a list of the benefits so you can refer to them and know what you’re working toward.  This is important so each time you check a goal off your list, you will have a great sense of accomplishment and it will continue to motivate you to move forward to your next goal.


5.) Time sensitive

You must set a date by which you will achieve each of your goals.  Just like when you were in school and you had that dreaded essay to write it had a deadline. That deadline helped keep you stay focused and on track to reaching and completing that assignment. If you have wishy washy goals with no deadline then you really have no serious commitment.


Take a look at your list of goals and reconfigure them into SMART Goals.  You’ll be surprised by the motivation and momentum you’ll gain as you knock them off your list one by one!

 Additional tips

  • Always have positive goals

Keep your eyes on where you want to go rather than where you don’t want to go. Instead of saying, “I don’t want to run slower than 40 minutes in the Turkey Day 10K” (that’s negative), say, “I want to break 40 minutes for the Turkey Day 10K” (that’s positive).

  • Accountability is key

Let supporters like friends, family, and training partners know what your goals are so that they can help you stay accountable to those goals and provide encouragement along the way.

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