5 Steps on How to Set Goals and Achieve Them.

“Dreams without goals are just dreams.”- Denzel Washington.

“On the road, you must apply discipline and consistency.”

As a personal trainer, one of the areas that I see that causes the most stress for people is goal-setting. Most people that I start working with as a personal trainer. come to me and don’t know how to set effective goals.

“I want to lose weight.” “I want to fix my gut health.” “I want to gain 20lbs of muscle. I see guys on TikTok do it so I should be able to do it in 2 months.” V.s “I want to lose 10 lbs in 5 months, and I will check in on my weight by weighing in every weekend. To achieve this goal I will change my eating habits and exercise 3 times a week.”

There is a big difference between the first and second examples. The reason is the second example followed the SMART goal framework. We will go step by step on how to design an effective goal so you can achieve those dreams that you have.

S-Specific

The number one step in wanting to get something done is to be specific about what it is. Raise your hand if when you were a kid you had a toy you wanted for Christmas or your birthday. You forgot to tell your parents that it had to be this brand, and they got you some cheap knockoff. That pain of not getting what you wanted had to suck. That’s unfortunately the pain that most of us still feel to this day when we don’t hit that weight loss goal. Or spend another year waiting to get in shape.

M-Measurable

Think of our specific goal as the endpoint on a road trip. We have to measure the distance between where we are right now and where we want to be. This is going to be something to do weekly, daily, or even hourly you could do. Measuring your progress can be done in quite a few ways. For most people, their goals involve losing or gaining weight in some capacity.

The most precise way to check if you are making any progress is to use a scale. Weighing yourself at the same time of day every day is the best way to gather data and see if you are making progress. You take your weight for the week and average it out over 7days. Of course, this can fluctuate and that is to be expected. What you had for dinner, water intake, and a myriad of other reasons can cause fluctuation. Treat your scale as an instrument a scientist would use. You’re gathering data to see if you are on the right track.

If weighing yourself is causing mental distress, don’t do it. We have nonweight ways of measuring progress. Taking photos can be helpful to see your transformation week by week. When you are used to seeing yourself every day you can’t see the changes. When putting it in a photo perspective you can start to see the changes. Another useful tool like the pictures is clothing. The coolest part about my career as a personal trainer is when I have a client beaming. They come to me to say” I was able to try on my favorite pants from college and they fit!” A useful tip with this one is to pick out a piece of clothing that you used to wear. You could also buy a size smaller or larger depending on which way you want to go. Have weekly try-ons to see if you’re making progress.

Measuring your progress is the biggest area that f**ks with a lot of people. If you aren’t on track and when it is time to measure you get super bummed out and feel ashamed. That is understandable, it makes you feel like you have failed. Don’t let it pull you into a shame spiral. When the spiral happens it turns into a nothing matters mood and you end up back where you started. Treat your measurements as the road stops along your journey. If you are at the rest stop and you need to break and stretch your legs do it. If you realize you could get halfway off on your journey and be happy, do that too. Don’t let yourself drive back home. Setbacks are a part of life, and if you decide not to quit you are well on your way to achieving what you want.

A-Achievable

This can be the trickiest one to navigate, lofty goals come with a longer way to go but you go further. Aim for the stars and land on the moon. But, smaller more bite-sized goals make it easier to see the finish line. They may not be challenging enough to make it worthwhile. This part will need some research on what is typical for people embarking on the same journey. Make sure that it is safe and doable. The idea is with these goals we want to make sustainable change, the last thing we want is to crash diet. We got our results but because we didn’t change our habits and only starved ourselves for days on end.

R-Relevant

When forming your Smart Goals you also want to keep in mind how this will work the rest of your life. running it past your own personal values and other long-term goals. Let’s have a long-term goal of being the best parent. But your workouts and goal for weight loss take you away from them for hours on end. You will have to reframe your actions to make sure that they work with everything else in your life.

The best way to make sure you are keeping your Smart Goals relevant is to follow: “Precision Nutrition’s” Deep Health. As a certified PN coach, I use this every day to make sure my life is in balance. Even for myself when I was 18-20 I got myself to a 10 on the Physical aspect of deep health. In my obsession with being lean, muscular, and being an absolute unit other parts of my life fell apart. My relationships (social) with girlfriends and family deteriorated. Emotionally I was quick to anger and felt too stressed when anything didn’t go my way.

With the example from my life don’t let that discourage you from going after that dream body. You have to keep all the other parts of your life in mind and understand the trade-offs for what you want to achieve.

T- Time Bound

Imagine this, you have a huge project for work. They never set a due date and say “Donate any time you have to it.” What are the odds that you will actually get any of that done? The odds are almost zero. As every great procrastinator knows as a deadline draws near the amount of work done increases. Having an end date on your goal keeps you working. Unlike a work goal, you can’t put this one off. If it is a weight base goal you have to consistently keep working.

When setting the time limit you want to make it long enough to make sure it is achievable. It can’t be so long to where you put it off for so long and then end up flaking on your goal. The best way to achieve this is to always keep your goal and end date in mind. Have a picture on your lock screen, or have it hung up on your wall. The more you have it top of your mind the more likely you are to do it.

How to Use it Effectively

To use your SMART Goal effectively remind yourself that having the goal is not enough. You have to change your habits to get there. Find yourself a Facebook group, Reddit post, or YouTuber, who has had similar goals. Or is a professional in that field(thoroughly vet of course). Listening to others who have similar goals can be inspiring. As well as information on possible action steps and pitfalls.

After getting some ideas from your research what you will do is figure out what your own personal log jams are. Your log jams are obstacles on your path toward your goal. Freeing these up will allow for super quick progress and make a huge difference in your results. If you want some help on what could help check out this blog “10 Tips to Save Money on a Personal Trainer“.

As a Personal Trainer using SMART Goal has helped both my clients and I gain clarity on what they truly want. Having that clarity can make for a more enjoyable experience. Something to even move you faster along the path is having a coach(Shameless Plug). Having that guide on the side keeps you on track when you need it and adapting to any situation. Having an experienced coach helps personalize your experience to what you truly need.

Lets Recap:

  • Follow the SMART Goal Format to make your goal.
  • It has to be specific to you
  • Figure out how you will measure it
  • Make it Achievable
  • Ensure it is relevant to your life
  • Set a time limit on when you will be done.
  • Tie it all together and take action steps to achieve your goal.

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