In my Weight Watchers meeting on Saturday, if got another reminder of why if love these meetings so much. Every week, there’s a specific topic every Weight Watchers meeting touches on. This week, we talked about goals and how to have a plan to meet them.
Goals can be really specific or really broad, but in my experience, it’s the small, specific goals that are the best. They’re a lot easier to meet, and it creates a snowball effect. At work, they’re often called SMART goals – specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely. As much as I hate to use business lingo in my personal life (seems so cliché), it’s a metric I’ve found really works.
So, let’s pull it apart, shall we? Start with the general goal of “I want to lose weight.” As far as SMART goes, that’s a pretty terrible goal. It doesn’t meet any of the metrics. Let’s make it better.
First, I usually tackle measureable. It’s usually pretty easy to put a number on things like this. Since we’re talking small goals, let’s make it “I want to lose 5 pounds.” See? Already better because you have a way to see your progress.
In this case, timely, achievable, and realistic go together, so I think of them all at once. Average healthy weight loss should be .5-2 pounds a week (Weight Watchers wisdom coming into play here). Since there’s 4-5 weeks in a month, that could be anywhere from 2 to 10 pounds in a month. 5 pounds is in the middle, so it’s completely achievable. Putting that time restraint on the goal gives you a little bit of a push. The goal then becomes “I want to lose 5 pounds in a month.”
That may be specific enough for some people, but often you need a bit more guidance than that. Specific is where you tackle the how. How are you going to achieve that goal? Put it right in there. For me, it’s tracking my food, eating healthier, and moving more. The goal becomes “I want to lose 5 pounds in a month by eating healthier, moving more, and tracking my food and exercise.” You could drill down and get more specific than that – include how long you’re going to work out, what you’re going to eat, etc. Some people need more detail than others.
So what are some other examples of SMART goals?
Say you want to get more steps and you’re currently averaging about 6,000 steps every day. You want to get to 10,000. It’s a pretty big jump there, so a better strategy would be to slowly move it up. Instead of having your goal at 10,000, set it at 7,000. Since it’s pretty close to what you’re already doing, there’s a much higher chance you’ll hit that goal, and once you get used to that, you can set a new, higher goal (this is exactly how I’ve slowly increased my steps to 12,500/day).
You want to get a better picture of what you’re eating through tracking, but right now your tracking is all over the place – sometimes you do a whole day, sometimes just breakfast, sometimes you skip a whole week. Set your goal to log a specific number of days per week, or even a specific day. Maybe Mondays are really hard for you food-wise – set a goal to track that day. You can then bump it up to more days, or every breakfast – whatever slowly gets you there.
You want to get to the gym more, but it’s nearly impossible for you with everything you have to tackle in a day. Again, start small. Take one 10 minute walk every day. Do a yoga DVD every Tuesday. Try that new class at the gym every Thursday. Once you meet those goals, you can bump it up.
Once you start hitting your goals…well, it’s addicting, at least for me. They tend to have a snowball effect and make me just want to get better and better, which is what I want in the long run. One step at a time.
Do you set goals for yourself? Do you agree that small goals are a great way to get started?