There are many reasons why people fail to reach their goals. Lack of effort, poor planning, or simply big life shifts can all cause us to get off course, but one of the biggest reasons that people fail to reach their goals is actually one of the easiest to address.
Many people fail to reach their goals because the goal itself was the problem.
If a goal is not well thought out then it may not be achievable in the first place. Trying to reach an unachievable goal is frustrating and often leaves people blaming the process rather than blaming the end point itself.
To ensure that this doesn't happen with my clients, I always run goals through the S.M.A.R.T. test. A SMART goal is an achievable goal. And an achievable goal is the first step to success.
What is a S.M.A.R.T. goal.
A SMART goal is one that is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-Bound.
Running your goals through this check-list is a quick way to ensure that you are setting yourself up for success from the very beginning.
Let's take a look at each criteria individually.
Your goals should always be as specific as possible. This is the difference between "I want to lose weight" and "I want to lose 10 pounds." The first is so ambiguous that it is difficult to truly know when it is achieved. It is also difficult to plan specifically around an unspecific goal. Narrowing down your goals so they are as specific as possible.
Being able to measure progress is a key component to achieving success. If you are not able to measure your goals then you are more likely to miss key markers along the way that indicate you are on the right path to success. Missing these markers can mean plateaus, or stagnation, both of which are frustrating emotionally and can directly impact motivation.
How you measure a goal is dependent upon the goal itself but most often you can measure goals based on specific metrics such as weight, inches or centimeters lost, having a specific set of clothing you want to wear, being able to do a specific number of certain exercises, being able to perform certain movements, etc.
Choose the most appropriate form of measurement for your specific goal and you will be able to plan and program a much more successful route to achieving it.
Nothing derails achieving a goal like having an unattainable goal! I am constantly encouraging my clients and myself to set big goals. I think it is important to expect more of ourselves than we think we can do because it helps us to truly assess our limits and surprise ourselves with our own untapped ability. That being said, however big the goal is, it still must be attainable. Many of my clients have weight loss goals, and it makes sense to then ensure that the weight loss they aspire to is attainable for their body type, age, frame, etc. This holds true for my clients with performance and strength based goals as well.
It is tempting to think of "realistic" and "attainable" goals as being the same. Certainly if a goal is realistic, it is attainable. However, just because a goal is attainable does not mean it is realistic. An example of this would be a person who has a goal to participate in a marathon. Training for a marathon is incredibly time-consuming and while I would say that it is an attainable goal for most people, it may not be a realistic goal for a single mom who is working two jobs. Now, that is not to say that no single mother who is working two jobs should try to run a marathon. The take-away is that goals should be realistically attainable given the specific physical and mental capabilities as well as life-style and schedule capabilities.
Finally, planning and preparing to achieve you goal should always include a time-line. Always. Timelines hold you accountable to your plan. There is no exception to this and it is pivotal to successfully accomplishing your goal.
Running your goals through the SMART test does not guarantee that you will achieve it, but it DOES drastically increase the likelihood of success. It may seem like wasted time and energy to assess and refine these aspects of your goals but in the end, true goals are not accomplished by accident. Accidents occur by accident. Goals are achieve through intentional, purposeful effort.