Long term fitness goals using SMART

Do you want to set some long term fitness goals? The SMART acronym is widely known in the context of goal setting. Long term goals should certainly be created with SMART principles in mind. In this blog I’ll cover smart goals examples in a health and fitness context. Note that the principle can easily be applied to goals in other areas of life.

If you want to take your fitness to the next level, I hope you’ve already had a go at creating some long term fitness goals. But perhaps they feel a bit ‘wishy washy’ or vague to you? Are you really clear on what you want to achieve? If not, learning to apply the SMART principle will help you gain clarity around what you want to achieve. We’ll do this by explaining what the SMART acronym stands for, and looking at examples of SMART goals. Then you can create or modify your own.

The SMART principle to achieve long term fitness goals

S — Specific. Goals need to be clear

M — Measurable. You need to know exactly what will determine the goal has been reached

A — Achievable. Take a look at what’s going on in your life. What sacrifices will need to be made and what support you will need. Is the goal realistic?

R — Relevant. Make sure it’s something that interests you (rather than being something someone else wants you to do) and is in line with where you want to go

T — Time bound. Put a time frame on your goal and work back from there to figure out what will need to happen in between

Smart goal setting examples for long term fitness goals

Let’s take a few different vague long term fitness goals and turn them into SMART goals.

I want to lose weight”

This is a good start for one of your long term fitness goals. However it could contain a lot more information to give it more clarity and substance. You need to turn it into your own personal long term fitness goal — not one that could possibly be shared by a million other people. Let’s take it a step further and make it more specific by explaining where on your body you most want to lose weight from.

I want to lose weight from my stomach and buttocks”

Good, it’s going to be easier to work towards your long term fitness goals with clarity like this. Let’s take the next step by also making it measurable. How will you be able to measure that you’ve lost weight from your stomach and buttocks?

I want to lose weight from my stomach and buttocks so I can comfortably fit back into my old jeans”

Great work! Now let’s make sure your goal is achievable

Remember that long term fitness goals also need to be achievable. You won’t necessarily need to re-write your long term fitness goals to make sure they’re achievable. However you will need to have a really good think about them. You need to decide whether the disconnect between what you want and where you are now is too big.

Let me explain this a little further. In the context of the SMART goal above — how long is it since you’ve fitted those jeans? If you’ve never actually really fitted them, then maybe your goal is not realistic or achievable? If you’ve gradually gained weight over the past year or so, then I would suspect your goal probably is realistic. However if you haven’t been able to fit them for 20 years then your goal may or not be achievable in a safe manner. Only you can really sensibly determine if your long term fitness goals are achievable. Once you decide that they ultimately are, you’ll set a realistic time frame to achieve them.

Before we look at time frames, let’s check that your goal is relevant. Double check that your long term fitness goals are things you really want to achieve. You need to have a strong desire to achieve them, and not be doing so because you think it’s something that someone else wants for you. Again, you don’t necessarily need to re-write your goal at this point, just make sure that it’s something that is really important to you. If you want to look into this on a deeper level, check out my blog post about ‘knowing your why’.

The final step to setting your long term fitness goals using SMART

Let’s go back to where we left off with this particular goal. Here it is:

I want to lose weight from my stomach and buttocks so I can comfortably fit back into my old jeans”

Now we need to make it time bound. Long term fitness goals can vary in length from six months to one year, or even five years or more! You will need to determine the time frame based on where you are now. If it took you one year to gain the weight so that you didn’t fit your jeans properly, then this is probably a safe time frame to lose that same amount of weight again. Yes, I’m sure you can lose it faster than that, but sustainable (long term) weight loss is best achieved slowly and surely. You can read more about this in my blog post “Sustainable fat loss: a reality check”.

Your completed SMART goal could look like this

Over the course of one year I want to lose weight from my stomach and buttocks so I can comfortably fit back into my old jeans”

Now this is an example of a SMART goal! Just in case you can’t relate to this goal because you don’t want to lose weight, let’s have a look at a couple of additional sample SMART goals for health and fitness. First I’ll write a vague goal, and underneath I’ll write the SMART version.

Vague: “I want to run”

SMART: “I want to be able to run 5km on a flat road without stopping by December 2017”

Vague: “I’d like to be stronger”

SMART: “By December 2017 I will be much stronger because I will be able to do five full push ups on my toes whilst maintaining good technique”

Remember that my blog post ‘Knowing your why’ can help you take long term fitness goals like this another step further. Read it if you’re ready to take your fitness to the next level by first understanding the meaning behind your goals.

Once you’ve written your long term fitness goals in a SMART format, break them down to medium term goals (about three months) and then to four week goals. From there you can create daily and weekly targets to keep you headed in the direction you want to go.

For more articles like this, check out my goal setting and motivation blog category. The next post you might want to check out covers worry and self doubt, personal accountability, inspired action and more!

Originally published at Elly McGuinness.