How To Set A SMART Goal

I’ve mentioned in recent posts that I’m over weight. I weigh 14st (197lbs to be precise) and my ideal weight for a man my height is 12st 6lbs. That’s 23lbs I have to loose if I’m to regain my ideal weight.

So the purpose of this post is to frame a goal to shed those pounds. Most of you will have heard of setting SMART goals to ensure that goals are met. I’m going to go through the steps of setting a SMART goal here to illustrate how a SMART goal differs from not-SMART goals and how it will help me achieve my goal.

Let’s begin with defining what we mean by a SMART goal. In case you haven’t guessed SMART is an acronym; it defines all the attributes a goal should posses for it to be achievable:

So how do I make my weight loss goal into a SMART goal?

A specific goal names exactly what the goal needs to achieve. An example of a non-specific goal I hear quoted often is, “I’m going to be successful’. Successful at what? How do you define or measure success? This non-specific goal in too open to interpretation and needs to be stated in terms of something real, like finances for example.

My goal is to loose weight. Specifically I’m going to loose 23lbs in weight so that I weigh 12st 6lbs.

I used to get this confused with being specific. If course if I’m going to loose 23lbs then it’s measurable – haven’t I just said it’s 23lbs?

Really this attribute is about having the structures in place to measure your progress towards the goal. I’m not going to wake up one morning and say, “Hurray, I just lost 23lbs” (well I might; but more fool me if I do). No, I need a pair of scales – something to physically be able to measure my weight with and so determine my progress.

I have scales at home so my goal is measurable.

Goals are great; but they must be set within some sort of boundaries. For an extreme example I might set a goal to take lunch on Pluto – not really attainable is it? Another nice example I saw recently on another blog was a goal to be the next king of England. As the writer pointed out, unless you’re in the royal blood line or you’ve a huge army prepared to conquer England by force this goal is not attainable. You could argue that all goals are ultimately attainable; but here you have to look closely at your goal – are you prepared to devote the time and energy to attaining this goal? If not then it’s not attainable.

Loosing 23lbs is attainable. I put it on, I can loose it.

How relevant is this goal to the overall plan? It would be great to have a goal to be the next king of England; but if the overall plan is to gain entry to a Buddhist monastery then the goal isn’t relevant to the plan.

Loosing weight contributes to my desire to live a long and healthy life and so contributes directly to this. Yes, the goal is relevant.

Goals must be given a time frame for them to become real entities in your life. If I have a goal to loose 23lbs; but don’t give it a time line then where is the motivation going to come from to actually make me take the effort to shed that weight. Believe me, it will take effort.

This is often the big blocker. Here I have to nail my colours to the mast and state by when I’m going to loose that weight. Here goes….

By Christmas 2007. I’m going to loose that weight by Christmas this year.

There, I’ve stated it publicly for all to read.

Let’s recap this SMART goal:

  • Specific. I will loose 23lbs.
  • Measurable. With the bathroom scales.
  • Attainable. Yes, it’s within my abilities to do this.
  • Relevant. Yes, it will contribute to my health and longevity.
  • Timely. By Christmas this year (2007).

In a posting in the near future I will demonstrate how I’m going to achieve this goal.