A Step by Step Guide to Goal-Setting
What effect does goal-setting have? Is it worthwhile? In a 2017 meta-analysis in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology researchers stated, “The findings reported in the present review show that goal setting is an effective behavior change technique that can be considered a fundamental component of successful behavior change interventions” (Epton, Currie, & Armitage, 2017).
Have you chosen a goal for the new year? Is it actionable and measurable? How will you know that you’ve achieved it? Use this method to refine your goals and to put you on the path to success– SMART.
You need to be clear and concise about what it is that you want.
An example of a specific goal might look like this: I will lose 10 lbs in two months by starting an exercise and nutrition program. A non-specific goal is: I will lose weight.
A goal needs to be quantifiable. How will you know that you are making progress?
You can objectively measure weight, waistline, strength, body composition, aerobic capacity, etc. Choose something that you can get baseline data on and aim to improve it.
Is the goal that you have set something that is achievable and safe? For example, losing 10 lbs in two weeks might be possible, but is it safe and reasonable? Choose a goal that you can stick to without making huge sacrifices.
“I will see a personal trainer three times per week for two months to achieve my goal” is attainable.
Your goal should be relevant to your desires. Maybe you want to lose weight to look better for a cruise that you are going on. If so, then losing weight is a relevant goal for you. If you want to increase your strength and muscle mass for football season, then your specific goal would look different than losing 10 lbs in two months. Whatever it is, it is important to find “your why”. If you don’t, then what will keep you motivated throughout the process?
You should set a deadline for yourself. Deadlines encourage you to create a plan and stick to it. You can always readjust your goals along the way. For example, I wanted to run my first marathon in 2018. Marathon training is grueling and long, and I needed a deadline so that I would start training. I entered a race that was 8 months away that night.
Epton, T., Currie, S., & Armitage, C. J. (2017). Unique effects of setting goals on behavior change: Systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 85(12), 1182–1198. https://doi.org/10.1037/ccp0000260