I’ve decided to start a new series on the blog. Being a mental health professional, I know how important it is to have the right mindset with you’re making a healthy lifestyle change. Easier said that done, though. My aim here is to provide ya’ll with some help and support to make it a little easier!
Goals. We all have them. Sometimes we achieve our goals, and sometimes we don’t. Sometimes our goals are totally attainable, and sometimes they’re a little out of our reach. However, all goals are important. They give us something to strive for, something to tell us that we’re on the right path, and make us feel accomplished when we meet them.
When I meet with my clients at work, one of the first things we do is create an Individualized Service Plan (or treatment plan, for my other mental health professionals reading). This treatment plans spells out the goals we are working on, as well as objectives and interventions to help the client reach their goals. You should be doing the same thing – setting a goal, and then figuring out what you need to do to get there. Enter the SMART method of goal setting.
I use this method pretty much all the time in practice, both personally and professionally. I like this method because it spells out what a goal needs to be in order to accomplish it:
This might sound confusing to you. You might be asking yourself, “wait, can’t I just say what I want to do and then go do it?” Well, sure, but I promise you’ll be more successful if you follow this method. Don’t worry – I’ll walk you through it!
Let’s start with this statement: “I want to get in shape.” We’ll use this statement and turn it into a SMART goal.
Goals need to have some specificity to them. General goals are great, but how are you going to be able to tell if you’ve accomplished a goal? Goals need direction, so I recommend by answering these questions:
Who: Who’s involved in this?
What: What are you trying to accomplish?
Where: Identify where all of this is happening.
When: Nail down a time frame.
Why: Why are you doing this? Really think about your why.
How are you making progress? Your goals need checkpoints along the way, so to speak. Make sure you identify how you’re going to work toward your goals. For example, if you want to get in shape, maybe this means you’re going to work out for 3 days a week, 30 minutes each time.
“I want to play football for the NFL.”
“I want to be the next big rapper.”
Those are two of the goals that I hear a LOT from the kids I work with. And you know what – good for them for having such lofty goals. However, I often gently break it to them that their chances of this are incredibly slim and encourage them to set more attainable goals. For something to be attainable, you need the knowledge, skills, and willingness to get there. If you’re up for all that – great, more power to you, that means that you’re going to reach those goals. Start by identifying goals that are most important to you. As you work to reach them, you grow and expand, and those goals are closer in your reach.
Going off the “attainable” section, make sure your goals are realistic. For me, a realistic goal is to hit a certain weight range that my surgeon gave me. Something completely unrealistic is to look like a supermodel. I will NEVER be that genetically blessed – and that’s ok. I’ve come to terms with that.
Your goals need to be realistic for what you’re trying to improve. This is going to wax and wane. Is it completely possible that one day you’ll be able to deadlift 350 lbs? Absolutely. Are you going to reach that point 2 weeks after you’ve started working out for the first time in years? Unless you are secretly Superman, my best guess is no.
Even good intentions, like saying “I’m going to work out every day for the next two weeks,” isn’t realistic. Life happens. Stuff comes up. Start small and work your way up. Examine your schedule. Can you only go 3 times a week for a couple weeks? Great, start there!
Your goals need to have a time frame attached to them, otherwise they’ll just sorta go on forever. Time frames also mean that you stop and re-evaluate your goals, or maybe you’ve found that you’ve achieved them and need to start new goals! A good rule of thumb? Re-evaluate every 90 days. You might be surprised at your progress!
Time also means the time that you’re going to spend engaging in the activities you need to in order to reach this goal, like going to a gym 3 times per week or maybe going for a walk twice a day.
So, after reading through all of this, our original statement of “I want to get in shape” becomes:
I will go to the gym 3 days a week for at least 30 minutes.
As a bonus, I’ve included a little worksheet in PDF format (FREE to download!) explaining these steps and giving you space to define your goals! Just click here: SMART Goal Setting.
Share with me: what are some of your SMART goals?