Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Steps to Acheivement - SMART Goal Setting


A bit about myself - I am an occasional teacher for a school board in Ontario (a fancy, technical term for saying "substitute teacher"). In Ontario permanent contract teaching jobs are coveted positions. Just to get on the supply list, I had to spend an extra year after school volunteering. I decided to focus my time with kids that were identified with learning disabilities. Not to over-generalize, but common problems with students that have learning and behavioural problems is that they lack focus, initiative, and ability to see things through.

Kind of sounds a bit like me and my weight loss struggle....

One of the tools that the teacher implemented was "SMART" Goal setting. A method in which you set goals that are achievable and realistic. One of the classic examples she gives is if you are currently failing math with a 39% and it's mid semester - it wouldn't be realistic to set a goal saying that you hope to earn an 85% in that course by the end of term. The only thing you achieve when setting unrealistic goals is the sense of defeat.

In my last post, I discussed how goal setting and rewards are a great way to get you to your ultimate goal. I didn't really discuss the way in which you should set your goals. In reality, goal setting should be as calculated and planned out as are your weekly meal and workout plans.

So here's how it works:

SMART is an acornym that stands for:

S = Specific
M = Measurable
A = Attainable
R = Realistic
T = Timely

Specific: A specific goal has a much greater chance of being accomplished than a general goal. To set a specific goal you must answer the six “W” questions.

Measurable:  Establish concrete criteria for measuring progress toward the attainment of each goal you set.

Attainable:  When you identify goals that are most important to you, you begin to figure out ways you can make them come true. You develop the attitudes, abilities, skills, and financial capacity to reach them. You begin seeing previously overlooked opportunities to bring yourself closer to the achievement of your goals.

Realistic: To be realistic, a goal must represent an objective toward which you are both willing and able to work. A goal can be both high and realistic; you are the only one who can decide just how high your goal should be. But be sure that every goal represents substantial progress.

Timely:  A goal should be grounded within a time frame. With no time frame tied to it there’s no sense of urgency to complete it.

The one thing I want to clarify is that for myself personally, my personally goal is to not just lose weight, but to attain a healthy, balanced lifestyle. This is more important to me than my dress size. That being said, I know the way in which I lose weight is through healthy, balanced methods - the two will go hand in hand. In no way do I ever advocate for unhealthy steps and measures to meet your weight loss goals!

So! Let's get to it! Here is my SMART Goal:

I want to lose 20 lbs by November 14th, 2011 by eating right and exercising:

And here is how it breaks down:

Specific: Exercise and meal plan over the next 3 months
Measurable: Exercise 4x a week, 30 Min Cardio + 2 Strength Workouts (not necessarily all at once); Lose 20 lbs in 3 Months
Attainable: 20 lbs will bring me down to my goal weight of 135 lbs - certainly an attainable and healthy weight for someone of my frame to be.
Realistic: This certainly will be challenging, but I need something to motivate myself to get to the point where I want to be.
Timely: Wanting to lose the weight in 3 months is not only realistic, but it gives me a time line that I can see. There would be no point in me saying I want to lose weight someday - because it won't happen!

OK! There we have it! My SMART goal for losing weight in 3 months. Please post what your SMART goal is in the comments below! I would love to see them!

(SMART goal information source:

Here are some more websites on SMART goal setting:

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