Continuing with the goal setting discussion, it might not quite cut it to just have goals – to just throw them out there willy nilly and hope they get done. Having some sort of goal design format will make the goal achievement much more likely. One of my favourites is the SMART goal. SMART is a handy little acronym for the 5 characteristics of well planned goals. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-Oriented. Let’s look at this a little more thoroughly.

Specific: The goal is clear and unambiguous. What are you going to do? Why is it important? What else are you hoping to accomplish by achieving your goal? How are you going to do it? Where is it going to happen?

 i.e. “I will incorporate regular exercise into my weekly routine in order to improve my self-esteem, my emotional well-being, my waistline, and my health. I will exercise by swimming at the local pool 3 days per week for 30 minutes each time” as opposed to just “I want to exercise more.”

Measurable: How will you be able to measure that you are making progress toward the goal? How will you know that your goal has been accomplished? Establish concrete criteria for measuring progress toward the attainment of each goal.

 i.e. “I will start by finding out the public swim times and the public pools in my area and choose a few that fit into my schedule.”

Achievable: Important not to set the goal too high or too low – either of these may be considered meaningless. Do I have the skills, abilities, resources required to reach this goal? If not, what will I need and how will I get that?

i.e. “Can I swim for 30 minutes straight? No. Thus I will start by using a flutter board for 15 minutes at a time with a 10 minute break in between in order to build up my swimming endurance.”

Realistic: Am you willing and able to do what it will take to achieve the goal? Is this goal worth your effort?

 i.e. “I really like swimming – it’s one of the few forms of exercise I can honestly see myself doing regularly. Plus there’s the added bonus of relaxing in the hot tub afterward.”

Time-Oriented: There are 2 very important parts to this goal.

First, identify a date you plan to have the goal accomplished and a date (or 2 or 3) for reviewing where you are at in regards to your goal progression. Are you on the right track? Are you getting close? Does the goal need to be modified or reworked in any way?

Second, take the first step toward achieving your goal right away! Today. Tout suite. Pronto. When you identify and design the goal make sure it includes something you can accomplish today. It is very important to ‘strike while the iron is hot.’ Get going on it while you’re motivated and enthused.

i.e. “I will accomplish my goal of swimming for 30 minutes 3 days per week in 3 months. In one month I will be swimming 2 days per week for 20 minutes each time. In Two months I will be swimming 2 days per week for 30 minutes each time. And in 3 months, I’ll be swimming 3 days, for 30 minutes. I have set dates to review this progress. Right now I am going to check on-line for public swim times that work with my schedule, and if there is one today, I am going to go home and get my suit and head to the pool.”

Phew. This was a long one.