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Smart way to set fitness goals and get results

As you saw Jack was able to save money but could not get in shape for his wedding. Why? His success and failure both lie in the way he set his goals.

The way you set your goals is crucial in attaining any results. Many organizations and businesses are realizing this and have come up with a term called S.M.A.R.T. goals. SMART stands for a Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound goal. Employees who use the SMART guidelines have a much higher probability of attaining their goals. SMART goals work because they provide you a clear end vision of your goals and keep you accountable and motivated to attain them. Most importantly they force you to do your very best.

So, what are SMART goals? The figure below describes what the term SMART stands for.

Lets dive deep into the situation of Jack to understand this concept from his situation.

Jack had two goals to achieve

  1. Financial goal of saving $30000
  2. Fitness goal of getting in shape

Lets evaluate his two goals under the SMART goals definition

Specific

His financial goal is specific; he has to save a specific amount, that is $30000 by his wedding day. Notice how he can clearly form a picture of having $30,000 in his bank account. Now consider his fitness goal “get in shape” it lacks specificity; it just mentions that he wants to “get in shape”. It doesn’t mention if, he want to gain muscle or lose weight and by what amount. In other words Jack had no clear picture of what was he aiming for in his fitness goals. A better, more specific goal would have been to “decrease his waist size by 3 inches and gain 2 inches on his chest and 1 inch on arms”. With such a specific goal he would have had a clear understanding of what he wants to attain and given him a direction to move towards his goal.

Measurable

His financial goal is measurable as he can see how much money he has in his bank account and how much more he needs to save. This lets him appreciate what would it take for him to achieve his goal. As we saw, Jack realized that with just one job he will not be able to save enough money, hence he takes up another job to save more money. His fitness goal on the other hand is hard to quantify and therefore difficult to measure. Notice how strange “I have gotten 40% in shape” sounds. If on the other hand, Jack would have used the Specific SMART goal mentioned above, he could have measured his waist, chest and arms size and realized how far away from his goal he was. This way he would have known if he was on track or not.

Attainable

Jack realized that his financial goal was attainable only by working a second job, it was challenging for him to do his second job, but in the end he attained his financial goal. For his fitness goal just asking a question “is getting in shape attainable” sounds absurd. The answer to this question is “well, it depends on what you define as getting in shape”. The very fact that the answer involves “it depends” leaves a lot of room for unreasonable justification. Jack can easily justify that since he is going to the gym 4 times a week he is now in great shape (Even when he is spending most of the time in the gym just chatting with his gym buddies and not really getting fit)

Relevant

His financial goal is relevant for his circumstances (unless he does not love his fiancé), he needs the money otherwise there is no wedding function for Jack. This causes Jack to go out of his comfort zone, do two jobs, and save $30000. His fitness goal is not as relevant for him, if he is out of shape for his wedding, sure it might cause him some embarrassment but his wedding function is not going to stop. To really make his goal relevant, he should really have an internal want to be in shape for the wedding, even to an extent that he is ready to postpone the wedding if he cannot achieve his fitness goal. The way Jack acted it did not seem as if “getting in shape” was really a priority for him. His unwillingness of doing the necessary things and an attitude of frequently changing his workouts seems to be a quick fix approach rather than a true desire.

Time Bound

All goals should be time bound that is how we give our best effort in attaining them. If a goal is not time bound then in all probability that goal will never be attained. Both of Jack’s goals were time-bound; he had to complete them before his wedding day. Since other four characteristics of SMART goal factors were missing from Jack’s fitness goal, having a time bound goal did not help him much with his cause.

Some of the sample fitness goals that you can setup include

  1. I am going to loose 3 inches on my waist over the next 6 months by following a get lean program from Kaa-Yaa, instead of “I am going to loose weight”
  2. I am going to gain 2 inches on my chest and 1 inch on my arms with negligible fat gain in the next 16 weeks by following a gain mass program from Kaa-Yaa, instead of “I am going to build muscle”
  3. I am going to increase my squats and deadlifts by 20% over the next 12 weeks by following the build strength program from Kaa-Yaa, instead of “I am going to get strong”

Bottom-line: Most of us want to be fit, but fail miserably in attaining our goals because we don’t define our goals correctly. One fine day we decide that we want to be fit, go to the gym and do whatever we get our hand on, never to come back again. If you really want to build a habit of working out regularly then you have to set up Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time bound goals for yourself and then pursue them with your greatest intensity.