While intentions are good, broad goals and lack of planning lead to frustration and poor results. In order to successfully achieve your goals, they must be SMART – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely.
Paul Ewbank, performance manager, and Danielle Rancourt, performance dietitian, of Altru’s Sports Advantage share the importance of a SMART goal, and how you can go about setting & keeping yours.
Setting SMART Goals
Define the specifics. What is your goal and how are you going to achieve it? It can also be helpful to include why it is important to you.
“Rather than your goal being to eat out less often, you could adjust it to packing your lunch four times per week,” explains Rancourt.
Creating a measurable goal allows you to track your progress, stay accountable and make adjustments as needed.
“A measurable goal typically has a number involved,” explains Rancourt. “For example, if you regularly consume soda pop, your initial goal could be to drink less than 3 cans of pop per week.”
Your goals should be challenging, not impossible. Once you determine your goal, write out the steps necessary to achieve that goal. Ewbank shares, “Many people fail when setting new goals because they try to reverse course 180°. Smaller, more manageable change is a better and far more sustainable approach.”
“When setting goals, we encourage clients to be realistic about what they want to achieve. An unrealistic goal can easily lead to discouragement and abandonment of said goal. We encourage our clients to go from A to B rather than setting a goal of going from A to Z,” explains Ewbank.
You should consider your individual needs, habits and happiness when making a realistic goal. Set a safe, reasonable goal, and once you achieve it, not only are you motivated because you’ve achieved something, but you are motivated to set and reach a new goal.
“I like to compare this to the expiration date on a perishable food item,” shares Rancourt. “The ‘consume by’ date turns into the ‘achieve by’ date. If you have a date assigned to your goal, you’ll have better structure for meeting it and evaluating your success.”
Tips for Achieving Your SMART Goals
If this sounds overwhelming, or you’re not sure where to begin, here are some tips to help you as you get started and keep going strong:
Set Mini-SMART Goals
You’re more likely to reach you big end-goal if you break it down into several smaller ones. For example, if you want to lose 40 pounds, focus on monthly or even weekly goal. Once you hit your mini-milestones, you can move on to the next.
Track Your Progress
“Tracking your nutrition and workouts through an app or journal can be especially helpful as you get started,” shares Rancourt. “Not only can it help you track calorie intake and macronutrients (carbs, protein, fat), it also shows you your eating habits and what you might be missing or eating too much of.”
If your goals are weight-specific, you’ll want to keep track of where you are at. Maintain a consistent, regular schedule for weighing yourself.
“If you keep your weight in check, you can catch yourself more easily if you start to slip,” explains Rancourt.
Try New Things
Many people think healthy eating is boring, but it can be very enjoyable. Try experimenting with new recipes or ways to “health-ify” your favorite foods.
“If you love mac and cheese, try making it healthier,” explains Rancourt. “Using whole-wheat pasta and Greek yogurt in place of some of the cheese or cream can create a tasty, healthier option.”
The same can be said for fitness – doing the same thing every day can not only get boring, it can also cause a plateau in your results.
Reduce, Don’t Restrict
Both Rancourt and Ewbank caution against goals that are too restrictive or hard to achieve. Rather than cutting out food groups or habits, set limits.
“In general, I recommend the 80/20 rule,” explains Rancourt. “Life is about balance, not perfection, so allow yourself to enjoy the things you love, just keep the ones that take away from reaching your goals to a minimum.”
Move Every Day
“Consistency is vital when it comes to movement,” says Ewbank. “Strive to move every day, even if it is something as small as a walk around the block or some light mobility exercises. This consistency is a much more sustainable approach and will pay off in the long run.”
Track Your Progress: Keep a Log of What Works
The right mindset can help you stay passionate about what you hope to achieve.
“As you begin to set and accomplish goals, it is important to keep track of what you are doing,” encourages Ewbank. “This allows you to reference back and see what things work for you personally and what things do not. We have our athletes track the amount of weight they lift on a daily basis and we encourage everyone to do something similar as they conquer their goals.”
A Four Pillar Approach
At Altru’s Sports Advantage, the team of performance experts utilizes EXOS’ four pillar approach to help clients reach their goals. This approach includes mindset, nutrition, movement and recovery.
“If you don’t have the right mindset and attitude, you aren’t going to reach your full potential. If you don’t fuel properly or recover well, you won’t be getting the full potential out of your training,” Rancourt says. “They are very interconnected. So if you can master all four pillars, your performance is going to be the best it can be.”
For adults, ‘Rally’ group training through Sports Advantage offers bootcamp-style classes and supplemental support based on the four pillars. Additionally, initial assessments and consultations with the team allow the coaches to help you hone in on your goals, ensure they are SMART, and help you reach them.
For more information on Sports Advantage, or to sign up, call (701) 732.SPORT (7767) or visit altru.org/sport.