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Why SMART Goal Setting is Setting You Up for Failure with Your Fitness

by Coach Tommy

Oh boy…another post about goal setting and fitness.

As somebody who spent over a decade in the corporate world, I also yawn every time I hear the term “goal setting.”

It has become embedded in our culture that most people are as burned out on goal setting as taking another meeting via Zoom.

Specifically, everyone has been told that they need to set SMART goals, which stands for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Realistic
  • Timely

The whole point of the exercise is to help bring clarity and a concrete timeline to what it is you are trying to achieve.  It helps you stay focused and increases motivation.

The only problem with setting goals like this is that they are only based on desire. There are no actionable steps in place to make your desire a reality.

Further, setting SMART goals tends to focus on extrinsic motivations for wanting to do something.  Remember from earlier this week that extrinsic motivators typically fizzle out after a short time (you can read more about that here).

Now that isn’t to say that setting these types of goals is entirely useless. In fact, it should be the starting point, but not the end all be all for your specific health goals.

Todd Herman, a famous high-performance life coach, talks about creating “90-Day Sprints” of focused effort for ourselves.

Instead of creating these big audacious goals of “I want to lose 100 pounds in 1 year,” Todd recommends that you split your goals into “90-Day Sprints.” It allows you to be hyper-focused on the smaller pieces to achieve the larger goal you have set out for yourself.

For example, instead of saying, “I want to lose 100 pounds in 1 year,” you can create a 90-Day Sprint where the goal is “to work out at least 3 times a week and be 90% compliant with my nutrition plan.”

Once this is achieved, you can move the goal to “workout at least 5 times a week and be 95% compliant with my nutrition plan.”

Breaking the BIG goal up into smaller pieces makes it more digestible. It sets you up for long-term success by getting really good at the fundamentals.

But beyond 90-Day Sprints, if you really want to achieve long-term success with your health, then you need to set a goal of learning to love the process versus the outcome.

Psychologists refer to this as adopting a growth mindset where the goal becomes perpetual growth as a human being.

As famous sports coach John Wooden would always say, “do your best to become the best you are capable of being.”

Focusing on the journey instead of the destination will help you develop intrinsic motivation for your health and wellness.

So setting goals is not a bad thing, but it isn’t the only thing. Take a step back and start with adopting a growth mindset before setting down some concrete goals. This will give you the foundation to commit to yourself for the long term.

Tomorrow, we will discuss the last element of motivation: connection.

If you want to sit down and start discovering your own intrinsic motivation and how we can help, feel free to schedule a free consultation with the link below.



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