Have you ever wondered how celebrities, social media influencers and even just certain friends or acquaintances stay motivated to maintain their fitness regime? Where does their will come from? And what are they doing differently? It is not just the money, sponsorships, TV/Film deals or good genes that help them stay svelte. They have likely set goals to keep them on track.
While fitness is a lifelong journey, setting goals identifies your vision and creates short term motivation. They help identify what is important to you and measure progress toward your success. Goals provide focus and create momentum as well as trigger new behaviors and habits. Essentially, they provide direction as you measure your progress. The key is to set what are known as SMART Goals. Such goals are:
- Specific – clearly define your goal; broad sweeping fitness goals do not allow for actionable steps.
- Measurable – setting a benchmark allows you to determine your progress.
- Achievable – the goal should be challenging, but also realistic.
- Relevant – consider your current health status, lifestyle, and your ability to commit time to your goal.
- Time Specific – setting a time frame allows you to determine a plan.
Just like any other goal, it is important to reflect on your progress and examine what is either hindering or expediting your success. Goals are not meant to be static; they should change overtime as your fitness level changes, your lifestyle, or the season of life you are in with familial or professional commitments. Sometimes a goal might be as simple as doing 20 push-ups a day or 5 one minute wall sits for a month when familial or professional commitments are high; other times goals might be more challenging such as running a 5K or half-marathon when your schedule allows; and yet other times, a goal might be to try a new fitness routine such as Pilates or Yoga to increase your flexibility or a Spin class for 3 times a week while recovering from a weight bearing injury such as an ankle sprain or plantar fasciitis.
It is easy to compare ourselves with others but remember everyone has different goals for a reason. Take a few minutes to clarify why you choose your goal and why it’s important to you. Return to your reasons when you are filled with doubt or playing the comparison game. And while it’s helpful to have a fitness buddy when training to reach a similar goal such as a 5K, it can be counterproductive to your success if the specifics of the goal are not aligned. For example, if your goal is to run a 5K for the first time or the first time after having a baby or recovering from an injury, you may not want to train with someone who is looking to shave several minutes off their personal best time or finish in the top 5.
Share your SMART goals for this fall in the comments below and update us on your progress in the weeks ahead!
Written by Kelly Reising who is passionate about nutrition, fitness and health.
Dr. Mc Millan is a Board-Certified orthopedic sports medicine surgeon practicing in the Virtua Health System of south Jersey. For more information please visit www.drseanmcmillan.com or follow us on twitter @sportsdrsean.