Turning New Year Resolutions Into Reality: Structuring Your Goal-Setting for Success
I forget every December just how crowded the gym will be in January for 2 weeks. Then suddenly, it is back down to the same old year-round folks. Without clear goals and markers for progress, you may wind up as part of the masses instead of the massive. That sounded catchier in my head but you get it! Consistency is king and paired with a clear plan, 2020 you wouldn’t recognize the 2021 upgrade.
A simple goal-setting system I teach at the beginning of my college courses is S.M.A.R.T. Goals. S stands for Specific, M for Measurable, A for Attainable, R for Relevant, and T for Time Bound. Use these parameters to make sure your goal is clearly stated and objective.
For Specific, make sure your goal isn’t too vague. Losing weight is very vague. Losing 10 pounds of fat is far more specific.
For Measurable, make sure your goal can be clearly achieved from a numerical standpoint. You don’t want to squat more weight, you want to squat 50 pounds more.
For Attainable, make sure that it is an achievable goal. I know I won’t be going from zero running to a marathon without hailing a taxi this year, so I won’t be ridiculously ambitious. Give yourself a goal within your capabilities that will challenge you, not crush your spirits and make you quit in two weeks.
For Relevant, be sure your goal pertains to what you generally want to get better at. If your overarching goals mean getting bigger and stronger, don’t set out to lose 30 pounds of fat first. Be sure your SMART Goal applies to a more long-term idea of what you want to accomplish.
And last, for Time Bound, be sure it is limited by time. This means accomplishing it by the end of the year or another point in time. I personally advise trying to accomplish your halfway point by June 1 so you are more than halfway to your goal only five months into the year. Then as progress naturally slows as it does with fat loss , muscle gain and fitness improvements, you have more time for the second half of your goal. Just be sure there is a deadline for your SMART Goal or you will continue procrastinating.
Here is an example of how to turn a vague goal into a SMART Goal. Let’s say we have a young man in his early 20s who is under-muscled and wants to gain more muscle. He currently weighs 140 pounds. Instead of just saying “gain muscle” or even worse “gain weight” as a goal, we will take that intent and put better parameters on it.
“I will gain 25 pounds of primarily fat-free mass in the next year through proper diet and resistance training protocols.”
This goal is far better because we have specific intent to gain muscle mass, measurable numbers as a scale and if warranted, body fat tests, can give us real numbers of progress, attainable because it isn’t unreasonable to achieve this for this particular person, relevant because it applies to their overarching goal and time bound because the end of the year is their deadline. What is even better is that secondary goals can be set to help achieve this primary goal. Think about how you could set certain lifting goals and dietary intake goals to help explicitly boost progress.
Keep this in mind when constructing all of your goals, not just fitness or New Year related ones. Find someone to keep you accountable this next year and get after it!
I will leave you with these two quotes to get you going.
“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”
- this one is attributed to a lot of people but my favorite is the legendary Louie Simmons
“Do or do not, there is no try.”