When we set goals in life how often do they sound like a new years resolution, with a similar success rate? I know I have, and still am guilty of that. I have had a ton of half-baked goals for myself. Heck, I still have a few of them that I haven’t quite been able to put a final polish of so they are still on my “Someday maybe” list. Those are the exception, however, the goals I am actively focused on are S.M.A.R.T. ones.
This hopefully leads you to the question: What is a S.M.A.R.T. goal? Well, fictional reader, I am glad you asked! In 10 words or less: it is a systematic way to think about your goal. A S.M.A.R.T. goal is specific, measurable, assignable/achievable, realistic, and time-specific. So simply saying I want to lose weight will not suffice. This idea also ties into my “Finding Your Why,” post because in order to put so much effort in developing your goal, you better have a good reason (or why) for doing it, or you are better off pissing in the wind.
So did I just pull this S.M.A.R.T. goal concept out of thin air? Nope. It has been developed for a long time, however, a man named George T. Doran put an acronym to the concept in the ’80s. I am more than certain it had been around before him, but no one else made it stick quite like he did. Tangent aside in the November edition of the 1981 Management Review a paper by George T. Doran called There’s a S.M.A.R.T. way to write management’s goals and objectives; talked about the importance of objectives and the difficulty in sticking to them.
This is how he broke up a S.M.A.R.T. goal:
Specific – target a specific area for improvement.
Measurable – quantify or at least suggest an indicator of progress.
Assignable – specify who will do it.
Realistic – state what results can realistically be achieved, given available resources.
Time-Sensitive – specify when the result(s) can be achieved.
Short sweet and to the point, right? Heck yes! Occam’s razor at work! Occam’s razor, basically states, that the simplest of two competing theories should be used first. So if this simple solution to goal setting works for you, do it! Do buy a book, just think S.M.A.R.T.er, not harder. Like what I did there?
For those of you that want a more concrete idea. I will outline how I come up with a dieting plan for my wife when she wanted to lose weight. So our goal was: We want her to be at a healthy weight if you want to try for another little guy. Not very specific, however, a goal does not need to be S.M.A.R.T, until you start working on it, or you will never get it done because you are stuck making another goal before you have finished your initial one.
Once we started fleshing out the goal is when we got down to brass tacks. So the specific goal was to get her down to 120lbs, and hovering around 18% body fat. That ticked both the specific and measurable portion. Another measurable marker is a pair of jeans she wants to fit into. The assignable or achievable portion is that we are going to get a better handle on her diet. She is not as strict at keto/LCHF as I am, which is okay, however, if she wants to see meaningful change she knows she will have to clean it up. We are doing this by systematically curtailing her macros once we have her eating a well-formulated keto diet (I will dig more into this below.) We are being realistic and time specific with our goal because we are giving her a 6-month time frame, at which point we will see where we are at and readdress the time frame from there. The time frame is flexible in this instance because failure happens, however that will not derail us from the goal. After all, your health is a necessary part of a long healthy life. So if she only gets down to 125 and 20% body fat, did she fail? No, because she is in a healthier state than when she started, however, there still is work to do, but the body works at its own pace. We need to understand that.
As promised let’s dig into the diet portion of what I was talking about because it may have left you with more questions than less. Basically we are getting a baseline for her carbohydrate and protein needs then we will be dialing in on her fat to find her sweet spot then ramping down on it to allow her to burn more body fat then when she is at a good maintenance weight we will push the fat back up until she is eating enough to maintain her ideal weight.
Once I completed and crunched the numbers from my cut and my wife’s cut I will do a proper write-up and give you a more specific example of what we did. Still, I will not give you a full breakdown, because again this is paid content, and it is not mine to give away for free. But I can give you some actionable takeaways that my wife and I have learned along the way.
With the promised diet digression out of the way, that is how my wife and I systematically came up with her goal to lose weight. In summation this is the goal broken down into S.M.A.R.T. bullet points:
- Specific – To get down to between 120-125 lbs, and hovering around 18-20% body fat.
- Measurable – Again 120-125 lbs, 18-20% body fat, and to fit into an old pair of jeans.
- Assignable/actionable – To get a better handle on diet, by dialing in on carbs and protein then fluctuating the fat.
- Realistic – The overall goal is to get to a healthy weight and body fat percent, ideally in 6 months, however, if it takes longer than so be it because health is for the long haul.
- Time-Sensitive– 6 months is more than enough time to see a significant body composition change, however, if the scale is not in the ideal range, then we will evaluate and adjust as needed adding another 2-6 month if needed.
This is how I would walk myself through a S.M.A.R.T. goal. Tell me what you think. Did this post help you organize your goals? If so please share them! If this helped you and you would like me to dissect another goal of mine, let me know and if there is enough interest I may do another post like this in the future.