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Updated: Dec 30, 2020

I love the New Year. I love it because it's a time of reflection and renewal. It's an opportunity to review the previous year, the joys and setbacks alike, and set goals and ambitions for the new year.

When thinking about goal-setting, we need to think about setting SMART goals. SMART is an acronym for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. An example of a non-SMART goal would be, "I want to lose some weight." This goal, while it may be attainable, is not specific, measurable, or time-bound. Ideally, the most effective goals fulfill each of the letters of the SMART acronym:

S: (specific) Goals must be clear and unambiguous, stating precisely what should be accomplished.

M: (measurable) Goals must be trackable in order to see progress.

A: (attainable) Goals should be realistically achievable. Goals should not be contingent upon things outside of one's control.

R: (relevant) Goals must be pertinent to one's interests, needs, and abilities.

T: (time-bound) Goals must contain estimated timelines for completion (the completion of smaller, mini goals), and one should regularly monitor progress towards the main goal.

Let's take our example above, "losing some weight." If we revise this goal into a SMART goal, it would be, "I want to lose 10 pounds in 2 months." Now, our focus is on something specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. Another example of a non-SMART goal is a triathlete wanting to lose weight. Losing weight is not a relevant goal for someone who is focused on athletic performance -- it may happen as a consequence of training, but it should not be a goal.

In addition to setting SMART goals, be sure to keep the following in mind as well:

  1. avoid setting too many goals

  2. avoid setting negative goals

  3. set short- and long-term goals; try to achieve short-term goals with each workout

  4. revisit goals on a regular basis

The achievement of goals is a very fulfilling experience. It helps create a sense of self-efficacy and confidence, and the above recommendations can be used in the gym and workplace alike. Whether you are a first-time goal-setter or a long-time goal-achiever, I highly recommend keeping a journal and/or calendar of your goals (check out BestSelfCo products). This will help you stay focused, remember the time-bound nature of the goal, see the progress, and most importantly, realize the possibility of its attainment.

What are your goals? I'd love to hear them -- let me know in the comments below!

(Works Consulted: ACE The Exercise Professional's Guide to Personal Training)

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