Here we are, the earth about to complete another rotation around the sun. As tradition many people decide it’s time to start a new year’s resolution. Just as much as that is a tradition, so is quitting the resolution by the end of the month. So I figure what a better topic this month than successful goal setting. When I work with my athletes I tell them to be S.M.A.R.T. when setting their goals. A guideline to successful goal setting this new year is to make them: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time based. These are ideas to set you up for success and keep you on point when trying to attain your goals for the new year. Specific – When making a goal you should make it as specific as possible. When you make the goal too vague you never really know when you’ve completed it. At the same time you can quit on it whenever you want because you can just think… close enough. At what point do you really “get in shape” Are you thinking about cardiovascular fitness, muscular fitness, weight loss…? By narrowing down the goal you can hone in on what you really want to do. Measurable – This goes back to the being too vague aspect of goal setting. Usually with a goal you are trying to improve something, so make it tangible. Rather than saying “I want to be more fit,” say something like “I want to be able to run a mile in under 6 minutes,” or “I want to be able to squat 150lbs.” By having something that you can physically measure it will help stay committed. When you say “I want to be more fit” you don’t really have an end point to your goal; and half the fun of setting a goal is completing them and moving on to a newer, better goal. Attainable – Too often people decide to shoot for the moon when they start exercising, but don’t realize they’re barely able to get off the ground – leading to failure and eventually giving up. It’s not a bad idea to shoot for the moon as a long term goal, but sometimes you need intermediate short term goals to get there. When you make these goals you should be realistic about where you’re at personally and know what’s attainable. This isn’t just to say that you need to make your goals super easy, just make them something that can be realistically attained. Relevant – As we talk about long term/short term goals it’s good to make these short term goals relevant to your long term goals. Sometimes we make goals just because they seem easy to achieve or because it sounds like a good idea. But you should really be thinking of is; does this have a direct effect on what I want to do long term. Time Based – When leaving a goal open ended in terms of timetable it’s easy to keep pushing it back further and further. If you don’t have a timetable as to when you want to achieve the goal, there’s no sense of urgency to complete it. This is very important to keep in mind when developing short term/long term goals. You may have a goal that you want to achieve by the end of the year, but you then have other short term goals you can check off each month. An example for all of this is if someone who is currently running 18 minutes for 5k wants to set a goal to “get faster” should instead say something like: I want to run a 5k in 17 minutes by the end of December. On the way to this I want to start by increasing my mileage by 20% each month for the next 3 months, then as I start doing more speed work lower my 5k time to 17:40 by the end of June and to 17:20 by the end of August. This way the goal is very specific in regard to the improvement to their 5k. They are making it measurable with a time. Taking a minute off a 5k in one year is quite attainable. The short term goals are relevant to their long term goals. And setting a deadline of December makes it time based. Like always leave comments or questions in the comments below, and let me know what you think and if you have anything you want me to talk about in future posts.