SMART Goal Setting: Where Do We Want to Be?

This week we are going to start tackling Step 1 from our Build Your Best Life series: Have a deep and meaningful understanding of where we want to be. This is what we most commonly call goal setting.

Many people think of goal setting as simply naming an outcome. For most, this is the first step, and for many, as far as it goes. It is important to understand that visualizing what we want the end result to look like is an important part of the process. JP referred to this in the first podcast and highlighted that most people can actually feel what it may be like to be in that place. The challenge, though, is that starting the process can feel very different from what we visualize, causing us to feel disappointed, defeated, or to lose motivation. As a result, we are going to spend three weeks breaking down this step. This week we will talk about basic goal setting. Next week we will dig in a little further and talk about hopes and expectations. The final week, we will talk about our “why” and the importance of naming and evaluating this to help bring consistency to what we are working toward.

Basic goal setting seems to be something everyone has some knowledge of. Maybe not experience, but most of us have heard of the concept of SMART goal setting. Our focus this week will be an overview of this approach to goal setting.

What does START stand for? When setting goals we want it to be:

S- Specific

M- Measurable

A- Attainable

R- Relevant

T- Time Bound

This is easy to apply to traditional health goals in the physical fitness and nutrition arena. Some folks struggle to apply this when thinking about life goals. As such, here is another version than can be utilized for goal setting:

S- Significant

M- Meaningful

A- Action-Oriented

R- Rewarding

T- Trackable

Breaking these down doesn’t have to be a complicated process. Most people start with a very general idea of a goal. Things such as, “I want to lose 20 pounds”, “I want to have more energy”, “I just want to feel better”, “I need help walking through this issue”, or “something has to give.”

Digging into the mechanisms of goal setting isn’t the point of this, at least not today. Today, we want to think of breaking a larger, general goal into a SMART goal as a process of forming a hypotheses of sorts. Rather than seeing the initial goal as fixed, shifting to the understanding that it is a start. Rarely can we anticipate all of the factors and variables in advance, so the first step is getting in the mindset that an initial goal is a baseline and can be altered as new evidence presents itself.

Next week, we will dig into visualizing the desired change and the role this plays in developing a realistic plan of action.