Setting Goals the S.M.A.R.T Way

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I talk a lot about setting goals on the Runtastic blog & Fitness Channel because it is really vital to success with and adherence to a plan. Having a specific S.M.A.R.T goal in the forefront of your mind helps to energize & inspire you through the good times and bad times. What’s even better than setting a goal? Reaching it, of course! It’s the best feeling in the world and a great motivator when you reach a goal (big or small).

Today I am going to teach you, step by step, exactly how to set a goal using the S.M.A.R.T method. It is one thing to set a goal, and another thing to set a goal in a specific and personal way that almost ensures you are going to reach it (presuming you do the work, of course)! When you reach a goal, you get a feeling of success & a feeling of empowerment. Who doesn’t want that? Now, it’s okay to have a BIG goal but you want to make sure that you break this big goal into many smaller parts. You want to experience that feeling of success and reaching a goal (even small ones) many times on your way to the big goal.

Here is an example:

BIG GOAL: I want to run 250 km this year!

S-specific: You want your goal to be specific for you. This is the who, what, where and why! So instead of setting a goal to run more and eat healthier, you really have to dig deeper! What does running “more” and eating “healthier” even mean for you? Instead, you may choose something like: I will go for a 5-8 km run 3x per week after work. I will also start making sure I have a healthy breakfast at least 3x per week that is rich in protein so I am not starving at lunch time and making poor food choices. I will also attend yoga class 1x per week with my coworker Sarah because I know that will help my recovery from running. Get as specific and detailed as possible!

young woman sitting on the floor in the livingroom with a laptop on her knees.

M-measureable: You want to have a way to evaluate how you will decide if this goal has been met. You could plan your running and yoga workouts in your calendar and cross them off when you complete them. You could put a log on your fridge and make a tally mark every morning you eat that healthy breakfast. Figure out a way that works for you to measure your success and track your goal.

A-attainable: Stop and think about it; is your goal realistic?? If you only ran 50 km last year, is it attainable to really say you will run 250 km this year? If you never eat breakfast, it might be hard to say you will start eating it every single day. Make sure you take a look at your life and your current habits and kick it up a notch or two – not 10 notches. Remember, you want to be successful.

R-relevant: Now, this may be obvious but you want your goal to align with your objectives. Will this goal help you get one step closer to the big picture? If the answer is no, you either need to adjust your S.M.A.R.T goal or adjust the big picture. Are you still with me?

Young woman raising her hands into the sunrise.

T-time-bound: Last but not least, you need to set a date on which you wish to reach this goal. Whatever that date is, set it and write it down! Not only do you need to set a date in which you want to reach your goal, but also set times in which you will measure your success. In my experience as a personal trainer, anything longer than a 6 week goal date is too long. In fact, I would prefer 2-4 week goal dates because it’s easier to adhere, see results, get excited & keep going. So, if you want to run 250 km this year, you need to figure out how much on average you will need to run in this shorter time period. Luckily, the new Yearly Running Goal feature in the Runtastic app will help you do the math. This is really important to ensure you aren’t putting off your goal thinking you can just do it later. Or, in reference to the breakfast goal, maybe a smaller goal would be to make sure you go grocery shopping at a specific time each week to make sure you have everything you need to be successful with that goal. The key is to see progress!! By the time you get to your final BIG goal, you will not only have accomplished that goal but many other smaller ones in between.

Even as a fitness coach, who has been training hard & living a healthy lifestyle for almost 7 years, I still set S.M.A.R.T goals. The bottom line is: no matter who you are or where you are in your life- you need goals! Start setting some today using the S.M.A.R.T method, stay focused  & don’t stop until you get there!

Original was published on November 10, 2014 and updated on March 22, 2016.




Lunden Souza Lunden Souza is an Online Fitness & Lifestyle Transformation Coach. She helps people all over the world create a sustainable healthy lifestyle, so they'll never have to "start over" again! Connect with @lifelikelunden for real-life strategies to get on track for long-term health in both body and mind. View all posts by Lunden Souza »