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Goal Setting the SMART Way

Make a SMART Goal today!
Make a SMART Goal today!

Are you planning on making a New Year's resolution? Do three simple things and your chances of success will nearly double.

Step one, get a pen and write your goals down on a piece of paper. Step two, share that goal with your friends and family. Step three, carry it with you as a reminder of what you want to accomplish and review it daily. Three surprisingly simple steps. Here's why it works.

Committing your goals to paper forces you to take them out of your head and make them concrete. Dr. Edwin Locke found that by having a goal, you become more motivated to put in the effort to achieve that goal.

Setting specific fitness goals like running a race, helps change your motivation. Instead of exercising to lose weight, you're working out to accomplish something much larger.

It's simple and effective. But if you need a little more guidance, approach it the SMART way.

Fixing Fat Tip #2 - S.M.A.R.T. Goals

ACTION: I will write my goals down on a piece of paper. I will review that paper daily and carry it with me as a reminder of what I want to accomplish. Presented by Certified Personal Trainer - Leigh Pujado

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In 1990, Dr. Locke and Dr. Gary Latham published a book called, "A Theory of Goal Setting and Task Performance." They outlined five specific characteristics of successful goal setting. Over the years those characteristics have been condensed into the acronym SMART to make it easier to remember. This is what each letter stands for.

Your goals should be:

Specific - You have to know precisely what you're supposed to do.

Measurable - You must have some way to chart your progress.

Attainable - You should choose something challenging so you have to push yourself, but not something that's impossible.

Relevant - The best goals are ones designed to help you grow, not ones dictated solely by outside interests.

Time-Bound - You need a date when things should be completed to keep your motivation levels high.

Here's how it works. Let's say you set a goal to start running in the new year. It seems simple enough, but it doesn't give you enough specifics. Exactly how far are you going to run? How often do you want to train? What's the ultimate goal? How long are you going to dedicate to running each time?

Instead, follow the SMART rules. Set a goal to run a 5k race, in three months, by doing practice runs three times a week, for 45 minutes each time. Write it down on a piece of paper and carry that goal along wherever you go.

Dr. Gail Matthews of Dominican University decided to conduct a study to determine how much more effective people were at achieving written goals versus goals that people kept in their heads. The study was conducted on 149 people over four weeks. Here's what she discovered.

Subjects who did NOT write their goals down and kept them in their head had a 43% completion rate. Subjects who WROTE their goals down had a much higher completion rate of 61%. But, one group of subjects did even better than that.

The most successful group had to create action commitments. Then they were required to send their written goals, action commitments and a weekly progress report to a supportive friend. That group had an astonishing 76% completion rate of their stated goals.

The truly wonderful thing about setting SMART goals is they can be used for anything. It's not just about your health. Make goals for your job, what you'll do at home and how you want to prepare for the future. You can change anything in your life, but the first step is putting it down on paper and breaking it down into SMART steps.

Get out a pen and paper right now. Write your goals down and get started. What are you going to accomplish?

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