The importance of SMART goal setting

Once you’ve worked out what your personal fitness mission is, it’s time to think about the steps you need to take to get there. Having a plan is the key to success; without it, our goals are merely dreams that have no real chance of coming true.

There are a number of reasons why we fail to achieve our goals:

  • The goal is vague. Saying that you want to “eat healthier” is an admirable aspiration; however, there is no clear way in which to measure your progress.  What does ‘healthier’ mean?
  • You don’t have a clear plan for how to achieve your goals. So you want to become a runner. What is the first step you need to take? Who do you need to help you achieve this goal?
  • You don’t set aside time specifically dedicated to achieving your goals each day. We’re all busy with work, family and social pressures that need to be attended to. By not specifically setting time aside to work on your goals, you’re setting yourself up for failure.

Achieving goals takes time, commitment and a clear action plan. The principles of SMART goal setting are followed by high achievers who regularly crush their goals. You can set yourself up for success like a winner by following these same principles.

A SMART goal is:

Specific: have a clear idea of what you want to achieve. Instead of “I want to start running”, be explicit about what you want to achieve. If you’re aim is to incorporate regular running in your life, a goal such as “I want to finish the Great Ocean Road half-marathon” will help you create the weekly training habits of a runner with a clear purpose in mind.

Measurable: have goals that are measurable so that you know when you achieve them.  Participating in a running event is a great option because you can clearly measure your success, either by simply completing the race or achieving a personal best time, depending on your goal.

Attainable: it’s great to have stretch goals, but do yourself a favour and set small goals along the way that you can regularly achieve. Some great things happen when you hit a goal, no matter how small; you become confident in your ability to get things done and you create a belief that you CAN achieve a target when you work hard.

Relevant: the goal needs to be relevant to your broader purpose and values. Why do you want to achieve this goal? If your goal doesn’t have meaning or isn’t important enough to you, you will not dedicate the time and commitment required to achieve it.

Timely: setting a timeframe for achieving your goal focuses your energies and motivates you to achieve it. Without a timeframe, you won’t be truly accountable to achieving the end result.

Setting and achieving challenging goals is the key to personal growth. Create a catalyst for your success by following the SMART principles and you’ll soon be on your way.

Editorial contribution by Rebecca Walker

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