Originally I toyed with the idea of writing a "here's how to set good goals" post. After all, I am super type A, complete with workout spreadsheet and Google calendar mania. If there's one thing I am good at, it's making a smart plan and then following through with it (although I don't do so well if something or someone interferes with said plan)...so why not share what I've learned over the years with all you Resolutionizers?
But then I thought, nah, people have heard all this a million times. They know how it goes.
And yet after a week of seeing so-called "goals" on Facebook, Twitter, and blogs, I feel what I have to say may not be so familiar after all.
Far and away the most valuable thing I learned in my final two years of college was the idea of SMART goals. These were part of one of many business courses, but really they can apply to pretty much anything. I don't know which textbook these came from, so let's just acknowledge right up front that I did not come up with this and kudos to the person who did.
Every. Single. Goal. you make needs to be a SMART goal.
S - Specific
M - Measurable
A - Achievable
R - Relevant
T - Timely (I think this is a stupid way to put it...I've also heard "Time-bound" which makes more sense)
As an example, let's say that I want to "eat healthier." This is, I suppose, a goal by some stretch of the imagination, but it's honestly more of a desire. To actually realize that desire, you need a good SMART goal (or five) to help you out.
Specific - "Get better at CrossFit" or "eat healthier" or "lose weight" or "work out more" are all way too broad. You need to be specific about a key aspect of your desire. For my Health Eating example, pick something you KNOW needs work. Last year I knew my vegetable intake was sadly deficient. So instead of "eating healthy" we make the goal specific to vegetables: "eat more veggies."
Measurable - While we've gotten specifc about a particular area of eating healthy, "more" is not really measurable. A good goal can be quantified. Veggies are extra easy to quantify, as generally 1 serving = 1 cup. "Eat at least 3 cups of veggies per day" is now both specific and measurable.
Achievable - This is possibly my favorite piece of the goal-setting. It factors in real life. Maybe someone somewhere could say, "This year I will eat 3 cups of veggies every day for 365 days" and succeed, but I know I could not. My weekdays are fairly consistent and I always pack a ton of food to bring to work, and because I am cheap, I know that I personally won't bail on the lunch I packed in favor of going out to eat. My weekends, on the other hand, are usually when I go to dinner with people or run around doing errands, or sleep in a little extra. I have much less time to plan ahead and less control over what I'm going to eat. I decided to make the veggie goal a weekday-only goal. If the weekend included some veggies, great. But I wasn't gonna set myself up for failure and frustration with a standard I knew I couldn't keep. The achievable goal is now: "Eat at least 3 cups of veggies per day 5 days per week."
Relevant - Usually this is the easy part. It's where you check to see whether your goal actually relates to your initial desire. If you already eat at least 3 cups of veggies 5 days a week, this isn't gong to be a relevant goal, since you wanted to "eat healthier" - the "-er" part implies you'll make an improvement on what you're currently doing. For me last year, I was getting 0-2 servings of veggies per day, so I knew it would be a relevant goal.
Time-bound - Have some sort of deadline or end in sight. Honestly, for almost any goal I would recommend no short time frame than one month, and generally no longer time frame than 3 months. Most of us can tough something out for a week, but a month can help make something a habit. Anything longer than 3 months can sound really overwhelming and start to feel paralyzing. I would write out the date for yourself, and then reassess when you reach that end point.
Alright, now that you know what kind of goals to set, look for Part II next week on sticking with those goals!
Speaking of people who are trying to get healthier...on Monday night, Jared and I hiked up to our apartment complex's clubhouse to catch some Biggest Loser on TV.
We aren't big tube-watchers (as you can guess since we don't have one at home), but we really wanted to see this particular episode when we heard it would feature a bunch of CrossFit greats like Rich Froning and Camille Leblanc-Bazinet!
We wore our Reebok Nanos and Innovates, of course.
We were both surprised and impressed with the show as a whole. It was cool to see the kids on the show, and I loved the fact that they don't weigh the kids. They are giving the kids a fitness test at the beginning and end of the show. I love encouraging people to measure their fitness by what they can DO and not being so preoccupied by the silly number on the scale.
We also got to catch a classic Jillian chewing out a contestant moment:
But of course the best part was squealing like a girl (oh, wait, I am a girl) when the blue team headed into Bob's workout "gym" and we saw all the CrossFitters WODding away!!!
We were so excited to see CrossFit on the show, because on the one hand you have all the world class athletes, but then you see all these contestants DOING CrossFit. People often tell me that they want to "get in better shape" before trying CrossFit, or that they aren't strong enough or tough enough. I hope that this show will really convince people that CrossFit truly is scaleable for any fitness level, and that anyone, no matter what your limitations, can come in and give it a shot.
And for your happy Friday viewing pleasure, check out this great video of Jillian Michaels herself trying a WOD!