I want to let you know that there is an affiliate link in this post. I get a small commission if you buy anything after clicking this link, but it will not cost you anything extra.
The beginning of a new year is when you break out the promises to lose weight, balance your budget, and wear makeup every day. Dreams seem within your reach that last month felt like a long shot. New routines are established with the best of intentions. Lists are made. Planners are started. Life is good.
Then, a month or so in, your daughter starts ballet three days a week, your son has tutor appointments on the other two evenings, and the morning carpool takes precedence over the gym. You look at that list of goals you happily jotted down in a brand-new spiral notebook with an inspirational saying on the cover. Not one is checked off. You wonder why you bother even bothered.
The reason you haven’t made any progress is because your goals aren’t goals. They are dreams masquerading as goals. Without a plan to achieve your goals, they remain just out of reach. What you need now is a plan. SMART goals are the most effective way to make that plan and to achieve your goals.
I’m sure this isn’t your first introduction to SMART goals. They seem to be everywhere right now. Every motivational email will talk about them. At first, I thought they were just an overrated fad. I scoffed and went about making my tried and true (yet never finished) to do lists.
Then, one day, I got tired of staring at my unfinished to do lists and decided to apply the SMART formula to my most cherished goal. The one that has been at the top of my list since I was a teenager. My weight loss goal.
I figured it couldn’t hurt. Nothing else had worked, so what did I have to lose?
In case you never really understood what SMART stands for, here is a quickie cheat sheet:
Specific – Make it something more defined than to “lose weight.” Mine isn’t just to “lose weight” anymore. It is to lose 140 pounds.
Measurable – This is where you set your finish line. You will know you’ve met your goal when you break that yellow and black tape you set up way back at the start. My measurable is to reach 170 pounds.
Achievable or Attainable – Setting a goal that isn’t feasible will just lead you to ball up the paper and throw it in the trash. It will also keep your finish line so far away that you will need binoculars to see it. Make sure you leave the binoculars at home and set a goal you can see from the starting line. My achievable piece is the 140 pounds because my starting weight was 310 pounds.
Relevant – This is where your why comes into play. Knowing why this goal matters will keep you focused and moving forward. The relevant part of my goal is my son. I want to be a part of his life as long as possible. Weighing over 300 pounds could disrupt that sooner than I would like.
Time Bound – This piece is for the procrastinator in you. She can’t get fired up unless you set a time limit for her. Make it a goal that is achievable so she doesn’t loose interest right away, but make it one that is also a little bit challenging to keep enticing her to move forward. The time bound part of my goal is 2 years.
So, now that you know a little more about SMART goals in general and my weight loss SMART goal specifically, I’ll show you how to make it a little more yours.
Handwrite out each letter vertically like we used to do in grade school. I like to use a ruled piece of paper because my ability to write in a straight line is not great. It looks a little like this:
Use a pencil or an excellent erasable pen like these awesome Pilot Frixion pens for the first draft. This lets you make changes until what you write mirrors your dream.
Make it into a single sentence you can get to know intimately. You are making a commitment to your goal. In one sentence, my goal looks like this: I am going to lose 140 pounds in two years to reach 170 pounds so that I can improve my longevity and my time with my son.
Put it somewhere you can’t ignore. Post it on your bathroom mirror or at your desk. Tape it to the front of your planner. Keep a card in your wallet. It doesn’t matter where as long as it makes you think about it regularly. You don’t want it to be easily ignored, or it won’t hold the weight it needs to help you make the changes you need to make to reach that finish line.
Writing a to-do or a resolution list will get you nowhere near achieving what you want to achieve. You need to make a plan. Setting a SMART goal is the outline of that plan. Your goal needs to be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound to have any chance of making it past the initial burst of inspiration that made you decide to set that goal in the first place.