Goal setting is important. Without a goal(s) you can easily lose your focus – your joie de vivre for exercise.
Setting S.M.A.R.T. goals (an acronym commonly used by my colleague, Ashlee McGuire) is imperative for long-term success.
Specific – Make your goal(s) specific. Make many short-term goals (e.g. I will run for 30 minutes at lunch Monday, Wednesday, Friday) that will help you accomplish a long-term goal (e.g. a half marathon). And make sure you figure out all the details – when, where, with who, what type of exercise, etc.
Measurable – Is your goal measurable? Measuring and keeping track of your success is imperative to maintain your motivation. You need to determine how you measure and track your success. Perhaps you write down in a planner or place a gold star sticker on the days you meet your target.
Attainable – How can you attain this goal? What steps can you do to make your goal(s) feasible? Do you feel strongly about your goal? If not, find a new goal (nothing is set in stone). If I were to set a goal to swim across Lake Ontario, I would undoubtedly fail. Why? I dislike swimming long distances and well, I stink at swimming. You must be passionate about your goal. Dedication brings forth planning. Planning brings about success (usually).
Realistic – Sometimes we think we are superhuman and can accomplish daring Zeus-like feats. However, when you set a goal to run a marathon (for example) when you have never run in your life you are potentially setting yourself up for failure. And nobody, I mean nobody, likes failure. This doesn’t mean you should make easy-peasy goals. What I am trying to communicate is that your goal should be humanly possible and more specifically, within your realm of capability.
Timely – Make sure to set a deadline. Sign up for a race. Tell people what you are doing. Make it known to the world that you are going to run 5 KM, start dragon boating, or start a neighbourhood walking group. Don’t be wishy-washy – this is about your health, longevity and happiness. Take time for yourself.
Happy goal setting.