Some people don’t plan when it comes to exercising. This may be part of the reason they don’t continue exercising once winter comes. They have failed to plan, haven’t set any goals, and simply stop. If you’re serious about your health, however, it is important to exercise all year round even if you change the type of exercise you do.
How do you set goals when they relate to exercise? Honestly, the process of setting exercise goals isn’t any different than decluttering your house or starting a business. There is an acronym that you can use for creating goals – one that is useful for anything you are setting goals for – S.M.A.R.T.
The S in the acronym is for Specific. Setting a specific goal gives you a better chance of reaching it than a general goal. A specific will answer some “W” questions:
Who will be involved?
What will I accomplish?
Where will I exercise?
When will I exercise and for how long?
Which items will I need to reach my goal?
Why am I doing this?
A general goal would be “I plan to exercise during the winter months.” A specific goal, however, would be something like, “Mary and I will get together three times a week during the winter months at my apartment to exercise with a video for an hour each time we meet so we both can lose weight and get healthy for our high school reunion in June.” You can see that each of the “W” questions was answered. Perhaps your goal isn’t spelled out in that much detail, but you still want to be specific about what you will be doing, for how long, and what you hope to accomplish.
The M in the acronym is for Measurable. You want to establish concrete ways to measure whether you’re making progress toward your ultimate goal. In the case of exercise, a measurable goal would be taking physical measurements of your body once a week. If you are exercising regularly during the winter months, instead of adding inches, you should be taking them off.
Using a measurable goal will help you document your progress, stay on track, reach any target dates you made, and know when you’ve reached your goal. You can determine if your goal is measurable by asking how much or how many? How will you know if you’ve reached your goal?
The A in the acronym is for Attainable. Have you identified what is most important to you? When you do, you’ll most likely figure out ways you can to make sure you succeed. You will find ways to adjust your mindset, learn new skills, or find new things to help you reach your goals. You may begin to realize there are some things you’ve been doing that hinder your goals.
Set smaller goals that you will be able to reach. Since winter generally lasts about three months, you don’t have to plan for an entire year’s worth of exercise. Choose goals that are shorter in length – “I will exercise three days a week during the winter months.” Plan your exercise steps carefully and you will likely be able to reach your goals. Writing your goals out will help build your self-image. You will learn to see yourself as being worthy of the goals, and you will begin to develop the traits which will allow you to attain the goals.
The R in the acronym is for Realistic. If you choose a goal that is not realistic – “I will lift 250 pounds after my first week of lifting weights” – it is likely you will not be willing or able to reach it. However, if you choose one that you can actually reach – “I will lift 5 or 10 pounds of weight for my first week of weightlifting” – it is something you will be able to reach. You also want to consider whether the goal is too easy. If you have never lifted weights before, lifting 5 or 10 pounds may seem difficult. But if you have lifted weights in the past and stopped, lifting 5 or 10 pounds may seem simple. You want to be sure that each goal you make is something that moves you forward.
The T in the S.M.A.R.T. acronym stands for Timely. Each goal you set should have a time frame surrounding it. If you don’t give yourself a time frame under which you plan to reach your goal, you may not have the self-determination to continue. For instance, if you want to lose 15 pounds but don’t say when you want to lose the weight by, you won’t have as much of a chance to lose the weight as if you say I will lose 15 pounds by June 10th. Setting a specific date helps to anchor your desire and sets your unconscious mind to begin working on the goal to achieve it.
The letter T in the acronym could also stand for Tangible. A tangible goal is one that you experience with one or more of your senses – sight, sound, touch, smell, or taste. Having a tangible goal will also be easier to make the goal specific and measurable, increasing your chance of success.
When you consider your goals and choose ones that use one or more of the S.M.A.R.T. letters, be sure to write your goals down. You may also want to ask a friend or family member to help hold you accountable. With their encouragement and specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely goals, you will soon see the results you want to achieve during the winter months. And, as an added benefit, when the weather begins to warm up and it’s time for shorts and bathing suits, you won’t feel so bad about how you look. You’ll also be closer to your ultimate goal of being healthy and fit.