Now, when we have decided to focus on setting a good achievable goal, I think it's time to talk about the proper process for goal-setting. It does exist, and it's being used widely. The method is called S.M.A.R.T. goals. The concept originated in the field of management (you're welcome to read the original article by George T. Doran, 1980), but as it turned out to be a quite effective tool, it has been adopted in other areas, such as psychotherapy for example. I believe that it's an excellent tool for setting our body transformation goals and today I'd like to share it with you. As you could guess, S.M.A.R.T. is an acronym. I'd like to note that the modern interpretation of this acronym differs from the original and varies depending on the setting. Nevertheless, I'll try to provide both historical and modern meaning, and will go over this concept and try to apply it to weight loss or body transformation.
There are five attributes of S.M.A.R.T. goal setting which are nicely interrelated and complementary.
The goal must be Specific and Measureable - as I said in my earlier blog, you cannot and shouldn't set a vague goal of looking better or losing some weight. It cannot be a vague process goal - just going to gym or being on a diet. You must specify what you want to achieve and this goal must be quantifiable e.g. you may specify what your goal weight or body fat percentage is (we will spend a great deal of time talking about proper measuring and monitoring your progress in one of my next blogs). As an alternative you can specify some fitness goals such as being able to bench press a 225 lb barbell 10 times in one set or being able to run 10 km in a specific time. Finally, you can even say that you will simply go to gym X number of days and will perform your workout routine each time. That would do too, but I would still try to stick to a goal that focuses on some practical result, rather than an activity itself.
The next two attributes are the ones that are often confused about as different sources name them differently - the goal must Assignable/Achievable and Realistic/Relevant. The term "assignable" stemmed from the original work of Doran and was very relevant to management as you had to specify who will perform a specific task. Since you are setting your personal goals, there is no one to assign tasks to, so we use the word "achievable" instead like we do in medicine. That, in turn, makes "realistic" redundant, so we came up with the term "relevant", which is more relevant (yes, pun intended) to goal setting in our scenario. In order to avoid any confusion, I will discuss them in conjunction - the core idea is that the goal must be realistic. You should not set a goal of losing 50 pounds in 2 weeks or looking like Arnold Schwarzenegger at the peak of his form if you haven't tried any resistance exercise in your life and you are already 38. Again, I am not discouraging anyone from dreaming big, but rather trying to help people to set realistic, achievable goals - something that will help you move towards your ultimate dream. The next attribute, relevant, emphasizes that the goal should be relevant to you, which simply means not setting goals that you don't really care about. For example, you might want to lose weight to live longer and you don't really care much about getting low body fat percentage and look shredded, so you might focus on your Body Mass Index rather than achieving a specific body fat percentage.
Last but definitely not the least feature is Timing - your goal must be timed or scheduled. So instead of simply saying I want to lose 10 pounds, you will say that your goal is to lose 10 pounds in 10 weeks. It will keep you accountable and will allow for setting a proper framework for self-organization and building a good realistic action plan.
I hope that this quick review is helpful and to make things better in my next post I will focus on choosing the initial body transformation goal which is relevant to you and is the most cost-effective (a hint: I'll try to convince you that weight loss should be your initial priority).