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Tips and advice

SMART goals

Forget resolutions… here comes GOAL SETTING!
It has become a tradition to greet the New Year with resolutions and change. Every year, many of us are determined to bring about positive changes into our lives. We reflect on past situations and events, briefly assess the year gone by, and hope the best has yet to come health, happiness, and prosperity wise, wouldn’t you say… but where does one start?
Having new resolutions in mind is a good start, but if what you ask for lacks in precision, it could be doomed to fail before the New Year even gets started. You could tell everyone who’s willing to listen that you want to lose weight or get in better shape, but thin are your chances for success if your resolutions are vague and without commitment, like a wish. That’s when goal setting comes into play! Setting clear and precise goals is the best way to get motivated and setup the needed structure to help you keep your resolutions, and succeed.
What would you like to change? Do you wish to get in better shape for your grandchildren’s sake? To have more energy for leisure activities? To develop a better posture? To lose weight? What would meeting your goals actually mean to you? How would it change your life? The more precise are your goals, the more apt you are to assess your progress.
Ok, so how does one get there?
Our Anglo-Saxon friends developed the "S-M-A-R-T" goal setting concept. This efficient tool comes into play whenever setting goals!
The main objective of S.M.A.R.T. consists in establishing a detailed action plan designed to enable you to reach your personal goals. The acronym appropriately stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time, since it is tied to a very specific timeframe.

In the following table, you will find each term explained in greater details.

S.M.A.R.T.

Description

Example

Specific

What is my goal?

You must write down exactly what you want! The more detailed your plan is, the easier will reaching your goal be.

Lose 10 pounds

Measurable

I will commit to perform at what frequency and level of intensity? … then what about quantity?

Quantifying how you need to perform along the way will increase your motivation, and enable you to assess your progress. How often will you take data, which specific measurements will you note down, and your goal’s deadline can all be easily established in order to determine if you are on the right track.

Scale readings to be taken

Attainable

What are the needed steps?

You also need to determine concrete ways enabling you to reach your goal. If needed, find additional resources, or get help. Your circle of friends, coworkers, or family, for instance,  and a sound support system will literally give you wings!

YES

‘if’ I work out 3 times a week and change my eating habits

Realistic

Do I have what it takes?

Needless to say, setting goals, which your current situation will prevent you from reaching, is pointless. Still, you should at least have the ambition or a very strong desire to change your situation, and get out of your comfort zone!

YES

1 pound per week

Time

When?

It is crucial to your success that you adequately assess your performance, and adjust your efforts accordingly, so setting up a timeframe to do so is absolutely essential.

10 weeks

How do you set goals?
You must REALLY want it…
First, do not persist on setting goals you don’t really want. For example, if your sweet half wishes you to lose weight or stop smoking, but deep down you do not really want to, then do not waste your time establishing objectives which you are most unlikely to meet! Ensure your goals have real meaning to you, and are something you really want, as opposed to being someone else’s wish list for you. Ask yourself : «On a scale from 1 to 10 (1 being the lowest, and 10 being the highest), to what level are you committed to your goal?» If it’s lower than 8, perhaps you need to concentrate on a different resolution!
Be specific, and closely monitor your goals!
Get a notebook, a diary, or other note taking material that will enable you to monitor your goals, and note the progress being made. The results should be measurable, dated, and as specific as possible. Writing down your goals creates sort of a commitment toward yourself, the accomplishment of your goals, and your strongest desires. There will be times along the way when you will certainly feel fatigue, stress, and be less than motivated, or when such perseverance will even annoy you, that’s when your diary will come to the rescue. It will serve as a reminder of all the reasons, all the compelling ‘whys’ you have chosen such goals. Unfortunately, memory can fail us and play tricks on us, with the tendency of remembering what’s negative as opposed to positive! Hence, going over your notes…
Establish measurable goals
A goal such as «Wanting a perfect body for your vacation on the beach» isn’t good enough, since it is very subjective, and could easily drain your motivation. On the other hand, being more specific by adding the number of calories to lose, a timeframe to reach your goal, or how many times per week you will work out, for instance, will automatically increase your chances for success. In addition, writing down detailed goals will help you remember them more readily, and thus make it easier to reach them. For extra help, display your goals in plain sight as a constant reminder, and in order to quickly make any needed modifications as you move forward!
Beware of conflicts
It is crucial that you take great care to avoid your goals being in conflict with each other, or with your regular schedule. For example, someone working 10-12 hours per day could hardly add 2 hours of training right away. Let’s be realistic, and start little by little!
Do you have access to the resources that will enable you to reach your goals?
In order to enlighten and ease your way, it is important to become aware of the methods to be used in reaching your goals. For instance, which fitness exercise should I know, what food should I favor, do I need any accessories or specific type of equipment to make it happen, is there a local support group in my neighborhood, etc. …
Be flexible!
Life isn’t set in stone, so why should your goals be? If you are not flexible, you will not be able to adapt when the unexpected happens. Also, should you not reach your goal exactly as you planned, this will potentially set you up for being frustrated, stressed out, de-motivated, or even for giving up! Regularly review your goals and objectives, and make any needed adjustment – this will save you from many disappointments.
Plan different goals or establish a step-by-step process
Who’s to say we cannot have more than one goal? Actually, your chances for success are greater if you plan numerous short and medium term objectives in view of reaching the ultimate goal. If your ultimate goal is to lose 30 pounds in six months, you will most likely get there, long term wise, but it’s better to think of it as losing 5 pounds per month. You will thus accumulate success after success, and render your objectives more pressing and anchored in time. One can easily forget an objective that stretches over a long period of time, but with a step-by-step process, you will obtain the desired results with greater ease. In turn, your confidence will be increased, and your motivation will be kept at the highest level.
Avoid these pitfalls!
Here are a few pitfalls that can prevent you from properly setting your goals: A non-realistic goal: I want to lose 100 pounds in one month! Having no control over your goal: I want my son to work out 3 times per week. A goal with no motivation behind it: I would like to be in better shape, but I hate to exercise. Lacking autonomy: I want to go to the gym 3 times per week, but I don’t have a car. Missing the needed experience and/or knowledge: I wish to control my blood sugar level, but I do not know how to. Your goal is in contradiction with your lifestyle: I want to work out 2 hours each day, but I work over 10 hours per day, and even more at times…
Regularly reward yourself!
Whenever you reach an important milestone, reward yourself, savor the victory, then move on to the next step. Linking pleasure to efforts along the way will heighten your motivation to complete the next step!
In closing…
Most often, and for various reasons, we honor our commitments to our partner in life, and to our kids, as well as fulfill our duties as an employee. If we are willing and able to do this for others, then we are definitely in a position to do it for ourselves. Set some time aside just for yourself, as you would for a friend in need of help. As the saying goes, charity begins at home … so take good care of yourself. No more excuses now! So get fit with VirtuoGym.com