Why "SMART" Goals Aren't Enough

It's a new year. A new day. A new chance to start fresh. You feel energized and ready to take on the world with your refreshed goals and attitude. Your "To Do" list is lofty, but no problem, you got this! Nothing can stop you from keeping your health goals this year!
Goodbye 5-10 lbs of fat a week, you say! Goodbye, delicious carbs and sugars taking the glorious form of donuts, pumpkin spice lattes, pastries...oooh! And those little fudge squares you love to buy in that cute small corner bakery downtown. You're going to nix all of it at once! Daily gym time, here we come! I'm going to melt off those pounds faster than butter in the microwave, and I'm going to work out six...no, seven days a week, you declare!
You start your new regimen strong, but by the time the end of the week rolls around, you are discovering muscles you never knew you had before as they angrily scream at you in pain. You now sit at your desk staring at the carrot you hold, contemplating whether or not to stab it into the eye of your co-worker because they won't stop talking about the seven cats that they dress up to look like celebrities.
You've just reached "hanger," my friend. Let's be honest; you are hating this. You start to slowly slide back into some of the old habits you had before. You're too sore to go to the gym. You miss a day. Too hungry to say no to that slice of pizza. You cheat. You eat three slices. You start to beat yourself up. You aren't achieving your goals. You aren't checking off your "To Do's." You feel discouraged. You feel like a failure. You submit. You're right back where you started.
I am here to tell you that this is a battle that is repetitively fought by many! I will be the first to admit that I have gone through this cycle many times, whether it's with nutrition, health, finances (or what have you). First of all, you are HUMAN. As a friend of mine used to throw her hands up and say, "I'm not Jesus." None of us are perfect.
And I feel like I need to say to you, cut yourself a fricking break. People can put on a poised front on the outside, but I'm here to tell you that every single one of us has a battle we deal with inside. And we are all cyclic. We go up, and then we go down. We do good, and then not so good. Even Mother Teresa had better days than others. What keeps us from veering too far off the straight path is paying attention to our self-talk and having a good plan-of-action.
I'm a very ambitious person, and it's easy for me to overload my plate, and underestimate the amount of time to get to my finish-line for whatever goal I have in mind. I fall down. I get back up, and I recalculate. Through the years I'm getting better at this whole calculation process and wiser (says the happy grey hairs that have begun to flaunt themselves from atop my head).
I've also spent hours reading and researching about productivity, goal setting, and time efficiency. And I have good news. You CAN beat this repetitive pattern that you may think is a permanent situation. This CAN change for you. And I can help give you the tools and knowledge to build a solid foundation for setting goals.
As a coach, there's a very familiar acronym that was created back in the early 1980s to help develop reliable objectives in employee project- management and personal development. It was quickly recognized as a useful tool when setting any goals, whether climbing the corporate ladder or trying to get fit and healthy. It gives a solid foundation for anyone looking to create all the necessary elements of realistic goals. It's smart. No, really. The acronym is SMART.
SMART goals that are effective are:
1. Specific: Instead of just having a broad general idea of "Hey, I want to lose weight and get into shape," nail down what weight you want to drop. What do you want to feel like again? What do you want to be able to do again? Think about and write down precisely WHAT you want to accomplish.
2. Measurable: In order for us as human beings to feel like we actually are accomplishing the goals we set out for, we need to be able to SEE that we are making progress. This is what keeps us motivated to keep moving forward. And this is where you start to put some numbers in with your goals like working out three times a week for 20 minutes, losing two pounds each week until you reach your ultimate goal, or improving one thing in your nutrition habits a week.
3. Attainable: It's important for our goals to be realistic because it can have the polar opposite effect if we are failing every objective that we've created for ourselves. If we begin failing everything we set out to achieve, we lose any forward momentum or ambition to conquer anything. We are going to fail anyway, so what's the point? No. Be honest with yourself and the time and willpower you have available. Cut out one vice a week. Account for traffic, kids, food prep...any variables that you can. You know yourself and your limits better than anyone.
4. Relevant: I can't stress how vital this portion of your goal setting is. Your goals need to be critical to you. Not your husband's sister who called you fat that one time. Not the stick skinny girls on the Victoria Secret commercials. This needs to be relevant and important to YOU. It needs to be driven by your own vision, whether you want to be able to ride a horse again, run a marathon, go hiking for miles, keep up with your kids, or just to feel full of energy and alive again!
5. Time-bound: Dates and times help to complete the vision that we have and propel us forward on a faster steady track than if we were not to have them. Again, remember that we want to keep a steady pace as we forge ahead, but not so unrealistically that we are failing every goal we set.
We as humans are goal driven, and anything of importance in this world started with a vision, and then a plan. Someone had the vision to put a man on the moon. Following that were very detailed plans to make it all possible. Arnold Schwarzenegger had the desire to become the greatest bodybuilder in the world. He did just that, through goal setting and dedication to his plan.
These SMART goals certainly aren't the only element to planning your objectives, but it is a tool to get you started and then expand from there. It clarifies your vision, gives you direction and sets you on a steady path forward to success.
NOW, as I was saying before, the one key reason that SMART Goals aren't going to get you where you want to go is that there's a very important element that is missing from all of this. 
You have to attach an internal and very emotional reason as to why you absolutely MUST reach these goals. Studies have found that we can plan all day long, but if we don't attach a dire internal meaning to it, we are much less likely at achieving those goals. 
Here is your assignment from me:
  1. Write out your SMART goals for the year (break them down into quarterly, monthly, weekly and daily).
  2. Sit down with a blank piece of paper and draw a line down the middle. 
  3. On the left side of the paper, I want you to write down what your life would be like if you accomplished these goals. 
  4. Now, on the right side of the paper, I want you to write down what life would be like if you continued on the path you are on now and don't change anything.
I really want you to be detailed about this. How would you feel? How would you feel seeing family members at a reunion, trying on new clothes? Possibly ending up with hypertension or diabetes. Think about every good and painful aspect that you can. 
Going through this process can feel exciting and upsetting when you imagine to the tiny details into a life of the pros & cons. But this is what makes a difference. Your brain remembers feelings and will attach necessity to your goals with those feelings. 
Our brains naturally like to take the most comfortable and easy route and if you can revisit these reasons and feelings before making any decision for your health, you will be more likely to choose the healthier choice because your brain begins to think about the negative ways you will feel if you don't make these changes.
It will overpower the instant gratification of midnight snacking or having that bowl of ice cream. It will help empower you to say "no, thanks guys" to your friends that invite you out for burgers.
Be willing to put the work in and think about your future, my friend. You are worth it. And your body deserves it. 
Let me know your thoughts, below. And as always, reach out if you have any questions!
Much love, my friend.

 Matthew Solan.  (September 1, 2017). Get SMART about your goals to get focused and stay on track at any age. Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School. Retrieved from
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