5 Goal Setting Tips For The New Year
It’s a new year and quite often this means a time of reflection on the year that has passed, as well as setting a number of new year fitness resolutions for the year ahead.
This year, we can help you to have your best year yet! With the SWEAT 12 Week Challenge starting on 14 January, we’re here to help you find out how to set goals the right way. We’ll explain a few goal setting strategies you should be mindful of, as well as how to successfully work toward achieving your goals.
What is goal setting?
Goal setting can be a powerful way of helping you to achieve what you want in life. It’s about identifying something that you want, or want to improve, and then focusing on what steps to take to work towards achieving it.
The way you create your goals is so important — believe it or not, if you don’t set yourself the right kind of goals to begin with, you could actually be limiting your success before you even begin.
That's why we want to provide you with 5 key goal setting tips — to help you set the best possible goals to get you to where you want to be!
How to set goals and achieve them
Effective goal setting involves more than just writing down a vague desire that you want to achieve. Generally, there are five main focus areas to consider when creating your goals – some people like to remember this by saying that goals should be ‘SMART’. This theory of goal setting became popular in the 1980s and people still use it today to work toward effective goal setting.
What are ‘SMART’ goals? While the terms used in the acronym can vary slightly, it usually refers to your goals being:
Why is it important to set goals in this way? Because studies have shown that working towards specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely goals makes you more likely to achieve success. This is in comparison to if you were to work toward a vague goal without any clear direction.
In the examples below, we will be working with the same goal — wanting to be able to do push ups on your toes — and will build upon it until it becomes a ‘SMART’ goal.
By applying this ‘SMART’ approach to any goal that you are setting, you can learn how to undertake goal setting in a more effective way. Now let’s dive a little further into what each of these terms actually mean!
1. Be specific
When setting any type of goal, it’s so important to ensure it is specific. If you set goals that are not clear or specific enough, this can make it harder to achieve, as well as know how to work towards achieving that goal.
For example, ‘getting fit’ is a really vague goal because of the different meanings that it can take on. What do you define as fit? How will you be able to tell when you are fit? An unclear goal like this doesn’t provide you with any real direction.
Try to be as specific as possible. Thinking about the ‘who, what, when, where, why and how’ of your desired state can be helpful in goal setting and can help you to track your progress. Your aim should be to clearly describe the outcome that you are trying to achieve.
An example of a specific goal could be: “I want to be able to do push-ups on my toes”. Striving for this particular goal still means you are working towards getting fitter and stronger but allows you to focus on a specific area of your fitness, making it easier to work toward.
2. Make your goals measurable
On top of knowing how to set goals that are specific, it is just as important to make sure that they are measurable. You can make a goal measurable in a number of ways. For example, your goal can focus on achieving a certain number of repetitions of an exercise; it could involve lifting a specific weight range; or it could be time-based, such as running a race under a certain time.
Why is it important to be able to measure and track your goal in this way? When goal setting, if you don’t make your goals measurable, how will you know whether you are getting closer to achieving them? By making sure your goal setting includes measurable details, it will make it easier to track when you have achieved that goal — as well as work toward it over time.
An example of a measurable goal could be: “I want to be able to do 20 push-ups on my toes”.
By specifying how many push-ups you want to do, you can then measure your progress by keeping track of how many you can successfully complete over time.
3. Make sure your goals are achievable
All goals should be challenging; however, it is really important that they are also achievable. For example, setting a goal of doing 20 push-ups on your toes in the space of two weeks is probably not an achievable goal when you are a fitness beginner.
It’s great to set yourself big goals; however, it will be more beneficial to break them down into smaller, more manageable steps. For example, if you want to be able to do 20 push-ups on your toes, allow yourself a reasonable amount of time (for example, a few months) to get to that point and begin with smaller goals that will help you work toward that end goal.
For example, let's consider the goal of doing 20 push-ups on your toes. if you are a fitness beginner, an achievable version of this goal might be to aim for it in three months' time. You can then work towards this by setting yourself smaller goals (such as doing 5 push-ups on your knees by the end of your second week), before taking new, more challenging steps to achieving the overall goal of doing 20 push-ups on your toes.
4. Make sure your goals are realistic
Setting goals that are realistic to you and your lifestyle is an important factor to consider if you want to succesfully achieve them. This is sometimes also referred to as setting goals that are 'relevant'.
The goals you set should be relevant to your life, as well as appropriate for your health and lifestyle. Think about why you want to achieve your goal of doing 20 push-ups on your toes— will it improve your quality of life? Perhaps you want to feel stronger and healthier so that you can be more active with your children — this is a meaningful goal and, as a result, you might be more committed to working toward it.
Similarly, if you decide to commit to five evening workouts at the gym per week to try and achieve this, when it doesn't suit your lifestyle (for example, if you have a young family or a lot of social commitments), then this might not be a realistic goal for you.
Be sure to set your goals high but make sure they suit your lifestyle.
5. Goals should be time-specific
Setting a start time and deadline is important with any kind of goal setting, as it allows you to work out a game plan toward achieving the goal. It also makes it easier to break your smaller goals into manageable steps, to help you get to the point of achieving it.
An example of a timely goal could be: “I want to be able to do 20 push-ups on my toes by (insert date)”.
By setting yourself a realistic time-frame to achieve the goal, you are better setting yourself up for success.
Set goals for this year!
Now that you know how to set goals in an effective and efficient way, it’s time to start goal setting! Write your goals down in a journal or make a note in your phone and try to come up with a clear plan about how you are going to work toward achieving that goal.
Throughout the goal setting process, remember not to compare your success to that of anyone else. We all start in different places and have different strengths and weaknesses.
What is important to remember is that a lot of hard work, planning and regular goal evaluation goes into getting where you want to be, no matter who you are.
What SMART healthy goal setting will you be doing for the 12 Week Challenge? Share your goals in the comments below!
* Results may vary. Strict adherence to the nutrition and exercise guide are required for best results.