7 Tips for Achieving ‘SMART’ Goals

Advice // MJ Angel // 4 February 2014

If you’re already doing 12WBT, you’ll know all about Mish’s passion for setting SMART goals, and how you can achieve them.

If not, here’s the definition of a SMART goal:

  • Specific: Not fluffy! Be crystal clear about what you want to achieve
  • Measurable: Get all the cold hard numbers so you can monitor progress
  • Achievable: You should be capable of achieving your goals (think family or work commitments)
  • Realistic: Realistic goals are sustainable
  • Time-Based: Draw up a day-by-day, week-by-week plan to make it happen

So let’s break it down some more. Here are some tips to help you stick to your SMART goals:

1. Be realistic

When you start with improvements versus drastic changes, goals seem much more achievable and you have a much higher chance of attaining them.

For example, if your goal is eating healthier, start by keeping a food journal and look at replacing ‘naughty’ foods with more healthy alternatives.

If your aim is to exercise more, instead of expecting yourself to hit the gym every single day right from the get-go, start smaller.

Schedule in your diary two or three time slots in the coming week – and stick to them. Once you’ve done that, repeat it for the following week and, if you can, build up that number.


2. Focus on one element at a time

Focus on one thing, do it well and that will set off a chain reaction to help you achieve your overall goal.

For example, if you want to lose weight, try focussing first on exercising more.

Once you start getting that under your belt, then add in eating healthily – the chances are you’ll want to fuel your body with healthy foods as a result of the exercise anyway and it won’t be so challenging.


Writing your goals down takes you one step closer to achieving them.

Writing your goals down takes you one step closer to achieving them.

3. Write down your goals

Writing down your goals creates a strong connection between the brain and the body.

That’s because when we look at them in black and white, and then write down our progress and tick off our achievements, this gives us the encouragement we need to keep going.

Start keeping a goal journal, in which you write down all the things you want to achieve.

Then create a plan of how you will achieve your goals, and break them into bite-sized chunks. Give each goal a ‘to-do’ list of its own.

Instead of simply saying, “I need to lose 10kg,” break it down and say, “By the end of February I will lose 1.5kg by walking the dog, going to the gym and doing a dance class.”

Add to that with, “By the end of March I will have lost 3kg by continuing to go to the gym, walking the dog and going to my dance class every week.”


4. Replace negative thoughts with positive ones

Self-talk can have a huge effect on whether or not we achieve our goals and make lasting changes in our life.

Instead of thinking, “I’m so tired, I don’t want to go for a run or go to the gym tonight,” put a positive spin on your thoughts. For example: “Even though I’m tired, I will feel better after I’ve exercised.”

After a while, you’ll find you can change this to: “Even though I’m tired, I always feel better after I’ve exercised.”


5. Don’t beat yourself up

We can’t always make that gym session or stick to our diet 100 per cent of the time. But instead of beating yourself up, move on!

If you had to work late and missed a yoga class, see if there are some exercises you can do at home.

Or, if today is a total washout, commit to going to the gym tomorrow. Look at your diary, write down when you plan to go, and make sure nothing gets in your way.

The same goes for your food – sure, today may not have been ideal, but the most important thing to remember is that if you fall off the horse, just get back on and keep going!

Getting friends involved in your journey gives your motivation a serious boost.

Getting friends involved in your journey gives your motivation a serious boost.

6. Reward yourself

Remember how when you were a kid you’d get a gold star or a sticker for being good? As adults we still react positively to praise and rewards. So create a reward program for yourself!

The only limit is your imagination… For example, every week you stick to your exercise program, put some money away into your reward account or jar.

As it adds up, you can put it towards that new outfit, a pamper session at the spa, a TV or a holiday.

When you exceed your goals, like losing more weight than you’d expected, give yourself a bonus.

However you decide to do it, rewarding yourself for achieving a goal will help motivate you to set new and bigger ones.

7. Tell people about your goals

When your friends and loved ones know about your goals, they can support your journey. And joining an online group or community that offers you support and understanding will give you the extra push you need to succeed.

As far as health and fitness are concerned, 12WBT is the ideal place for this, with its super-supportive Forums.

This is where members share their triumphs and tears throughout their journeys, and other members jump in to offer words of encouragement, advice or a simple “good on you”.

Surrounding yourself with people going through the same thing pays big dividends!


You may also like: How to Achieve Your Fitness Goal

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