Get S.M.A.R.T. Set Goals. Win at EVERYTHING.

Setting Goals


The graphic above is timely for both me and my clients as we struggle with our motivation and dedication. We each have our reasons, and they’re all valid, but it won’t hurt us to figure out what it will take to nudge us from our comfortable current 60-70% chance of success of “I Might” and “I Think I Can” into the being-accountable range of 80-90% of “I Can” and “I Am.”

But, that’s easier said than done. If it was easy, we’d all be fit by March (you know, that annual resolution business), our junk drawers would be organized, our basements wouldn’t look like cyclones just hit, and we’d smell good, have great hair, and get all the hot dates. 

What we need to do is map out a plan of action. Set goals. Identify obstacles and how we’ll deal with them.

The goals we set need to be S.M.A.R.T.
Let’s break that down. 

S is for Specific – In order for our goals to be reasonable and manageable, they need to target a specific area for improvement. Do I want to lose body fat? Gain muscle mass? Increase my cardiovascular endurance? Develop better balance, flexibility and agility? Yes, I know we want it all, but that’s not necessarily good training. Choose the one that is most important, or most necessary, and start there. The rest will come.

You should also try to define your goals as much as possible. “Tone up by the holidays” is vague, whereas “Exercise for 30-60 minutes, 5x per week” is specific. 

M is for Measurable – How will you measure your progress? BMI, skin fold tests, heart rate benchmark tests, body measurements, AMRAP exercises, and yes, of course weight, can each be helpful in getting benchmark statistics against which to measure your progress. Again, keep it simple. Choose one or two benchmark tests that are most specific to your goal. Mark your results and keep them handy.

Shameless plug time – Fit Test – 5 Benchmark Exercises  

A is for Attainable – You have a specific goal in mind. There are ways to measure your progress.  Now – is it attainable? If you have never exercised a day in your life, is it reasonable to assume you’ll exercise 6 days a week? Maybe starting off with 3 is more reasonable and attainable. Can you really lose 30lbs in 2 months? I mean, they do on the Biggest Loser! Your regimen will not look like theirs. Don’t set yourself up for failure. It’s great that you’re pumped and ready, but trust me, there will be highs and lows. Find your middle ground. The goal is to succeed, not to set the bar so high it’s impossible to reach.

R is for Realistic or Relevant – Be sure your goals are relevant to what makes sense for you. If you want to run a marathon, do you have the time it will take to train? You can join a Crossfit gym, but if your goal is better flexibility, that might not be the best option for you. Your results will depend upon setting SMART goals, and being honest about what you want, what you’re willing to do, what makes sense to do, and how you’ll make it happen. I still have it in my head, even after years of trying to become a runner but hating every minute, that I could go out and run a 10k right now, even though I rarely run anymore. I work out alllll the time. It’d be no problem, right? But that’s crazy-talk. It’s not realistic for me to assume I can do that if I’m not training for it. And if running isn’t important to me (it’s not), there’s no sense in doing it. I will choose something more relevant to my needs and desires. 

T is for Time-Frame — This is where you should get a little hard on yourself. By when do you hope to achieve your goal? And by when do you hope to see measurable progress? Don’t be unreasonable, but don’t let yourself off the hook too easily. As a former member of the “Procrastinators Anonymous Club,” I know all too well how I function without a deadline – I don’t. Case in point: I’ve been “working on” a deadline-free yoga certification for…  oh…… 2 YEARS. Lame. Friends have tried to give me a deadline (because they want some damn yoga already) but even that didn’t work. I know what I need – a firm deadline. “Complete this by <date> or else.” So considering the other parts of this exercise in goal-setting, what is a reasonable time frame for you? Is there a race in the not-too-distant future? Is there an event coming up and you want to rock that currently-one-size-too-small dress? Or, keep it simple – the calendar is your friend. It’s conveniently divided into seasons, months, weeks and days. Use it. 

Now you’re ready to move from your vague, “I’m exercising, sometimes, not enough, I should eat better but it’s hard, blah blah blah” 60% chance of success to “I think I can” (70%) and right on up through 80% “I can” and 90% “I am.”

I’ll catch you on the flip side of your goal, and we’ll high five, and toast to our success, and chest bump (wait, would that be weird?), and brag up our accomplishments. It’ll be rad. And I’ll meet you there. 


If you’re looking for a way to get fit, give my HiiT workouts a try. They’re short, intense, and designed to hit all major muscle groups (including core) and provide cardio – all in only 15 minutes a day. Even YOU aren’t too busy for THAT.

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