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S.M.A.R.T goals is a very useful tool in laying out the steps of achieving a particular set of goals and also help to evaluate whether those perceived achievements are within reach or too far fetched to be accounted for.
In this article, we will discuss setting the Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely (SMART) aspects that will help us better plan our fitness and health goals for not only the year ahead, but create a sustainable ecosystem to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
"A bad goal would be, say, 'get healthy'. A specific goal would be to lose weight." (1) With this in mind, and also the fact that getting healthy is multifaceted, one will have to be clear on what sort of healthiness to achieve. Such as, for some, being healthy can mean to have more functional health, to lose weight, to gain more muscles and strength, to be able to learn a specific sport, or to better manage a chronic illness. Once you have that specific target in mind, the next is to make it quantifiable.
You should at this point set a quantifiable way of letting yourself know how far, or whether you have achieved your goal. This will come in the form of measurable figures such as losing 15 kgs of weight, attain a certification of competency in a sport, able to do 10 chin ups etc.
Are you able to reach your set goals safely or might you be reaching for the stars too soon? This is something that must cross your mind when carrying out goal setting, especially for the near term ones. Work towards something that is achievable, always remember, fitness is a journey and not a sprint.
For your own wellbeing and also for confidence building, always lay out goals that are achievable at your current level of fitness or capacity. Avoid contemplating on farfetched goals of losing 20 to 30 kgs in 3 months, not only is it impossible, excessive dieting and exercise can result in injuries. If in doubt, you can discuss this with a healthcare or fitness professional.
Pick a goal or goals that are relevant to your current state, if you are happy with your weight but looking to consider building up muscle mass, then a weight loss goal will not be suitable. Likewise if the goal is to have better functional fitness so as to be able to tackle daily tasks, then work towards an exercise regime that helps to build up that function.
You will need a definite timeline so that it creates the sense of urgency. (1) The suggestion will be to set mini goals or milestones that can be achieved at stated intervals. For example, with the aim of doing 10 pull ups by the end of 6 months, try to set milestones in between which can comprise of successfully carrying out your first pull up by the first month, and 2 to 3 more in the next one and half months and so on. Stay disciplined, keep track and review your progress consistently.
Setting SMART goals is the first step towards achieving better health and fitness, no matter the type of achievements. However, the execution is an entirely different story, one method that can help to be better accountable of the progress and increase the chances of meeting your targets, will be to work towards your goals with family and friends, they can be the bedrock of encouragement, especially during times where motivation tapers off.
By : Alvin Ho
B (Eng), MBA, Certified Allied Healthcare/Fitness Professional (EIMS), Master Fitness Trainer / Fitness Nutrition, Resistance & Endurance Training Specialist (NFPT)