Do you think Ronnie Coleman stumbled into his 8 Mr. Olympia titles by accident? Do you think Elon Musk just woke up one day and co-founded Tesla out of the blue? Of course you don’t (we hope). Unless you plan on winning the lottery, success doesn’t just happen by coincidence. Whether we’re talking about your work, your diet, or your gains, success requires setting a goal (or series of goals), plotting a course, and working hard to get there.
Let’s talk about the first part.
It may sound like we’re just preaching about stuff you already know. But it would stun you to learn about the number of people who just suck at setting goals.
Goal-setting is arguably the most important part of the whole process. And there’s definitely a difference between good goals and bad goals. A good goal will motivate you and help you measure your progress towards achieving it over time. It’ll help keep you locked in and focused on it instead of procrastinating and getting distracted.
When it comes to goal setting there is one system you NEED to know: S.M.A.R.T. This acronym first appeared all the way back in the 1980s in an issue of an academic journal called Management Review and has been the gold standard ever since.
SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. Let’s go through each one-by-one and break down what they mean.
This is where most people fall on their face when setting a goal. We cannot tell you the number of times we’ve been asking a client what their goal is only to hear them say something like “get ripped” or “get a beach body for bikini season”.
It’s not that those aren’t good things to strive towards, but they’re way to general to be useful in training. What does bring ripped or having a beach body mean to you? That’s what we want to get at. If your goal is just a general statement like that it’s really not going to do much good at motivating you. Try to get more specific like “I would like to build muscle” or “I would like to burn fat”. And definitely avoid words like try, could, should, or maybe. We call those failure words.
But those goals still aren’t very good. That’s where the next part comes in.
This is a big one.
It’s important that your goal has some measurable criteria for accomplishment. This is not only so you can tell if you’ve achieved your goal, but you can also keep track of your progress and see if you’re trending in the right direction or if you need to make a change.
Weight loss is a great example of a measurable goal. How many pounds do you want to lose? Do you have a goal weight that you would like to be by a certain time?
It works for weight training too. How many pounds of muscle do you want to put on? How much weight do you want to be able to bench by the end of the year?
These questions will help you shape your general, unspecific goal into a measurable one that will help keep you accountable.
The first two components don’t mean squat without this one though. An unrealistic, unobtainable goal isn’t going to motivate you at all. In fact, it’ll probably discourage you more than anything when you inevitably fail to achieve it.
We’re all about the power of positive thinking and not holding yourself back by having a negative mindset. But don’t allow yourself to get carried away, there are limits to what the human body is capable of.
If you currently weight 100 pounds soaking wet and you want to become Phil Heath in 6 months… then I’ve got some bad news for you.
Now let’s say you’re halfway through the time period you set for yourself to lose 50 pounds and you can see you’re not on track, don’t let yourself be derailed. There are products out there that can help get you back on track.
Our favorites are ones that use a three-pronged approach: suppress appetite so you’re not throwing yourself off with cheat meals, raising your metabolic rate so you’re burning more calories in the gym than you normally would, and increasing your energy levels to keep you from being a couch potato. Click here to learn more about fat burners as well as our top product picks.
The point is don’t be afraid to ask for a little help if you see that your attainable goal is starting to slip out of reach. Achieving a goal against adversity is a great way to build confidence and motivation for your next one!
Depending on who you ask the R in SMART can stand for either realistic or relevant. I prefer relevant because realistic is covered in what we discussed above about your goal being attainable.
Relevant just means making sure that your goal is tied in to something you think is worthwhile in your life. If you’re 300 pounds overweight do you think a relevant life goal is to marathon all 28 seasons of The Simpsons?
It’s important to realize that a goal should have a deadline. Based on what we’ve gone through above, it’s implied in the measurable section that a deadline is appropriate for the goal in order for it to be motivating and keep you accountable.
It’s also important to realize that you should be setting goals all the time. Short-term SMART goals keep you motivated and then it’s on to the next one. We all know that guy or gal who has been saying for the past 5 years they’re on a special diet and yet they don’t look like they’ve changed a bit. Don’t be that person.
You’ll achieve your goals if you realize that at the end of the day, consistency is the key. Also, the results you see depend on the effort you put into it. That could mean making the necessary lifestyle changes to make improving your physique or health a reality. Don’t hold yourself back!