I never really thought about goals or goal setting until I was making my way through grad school, pursuing my Masters degree in Speech and Hearing Sciences. Even then, I was not setting goals for myself, but learning how to write treatment goals for clients. Now, as a Speech-Language Pathologist in a public school, I write goals for a living! Any student receiving Special Education services has an IEP (Individualized Education Program). This document is a long-winded beast, but in short, it lists the services that the student receives (i.e. academic, speech/language, occupational therapy, physical therapy, behavior, etc.) and the goals and objectives in each of the categories that the student will be working on over the next year. Without getting too much into the nitty gritty, a student’s speech/language goals should reflect their baseline performance as well as where you expect them to be in a year’s time, given specially designed instruction (SDI). The goals should be based on their evaluation data (recent standardized testing), anecdotal data from sessions, teacher report, etc. Basically, what skills do they need to work on in order that they can access general and special education curriculum? I could go on and on, but I think at some point I’d sound like Charlie Brown’s teacher (waa waa waa waa).
State and federal laws require that IEP goals contain certain information (end date, type of instruction given, baseline accuracy, end-goal accuracy, how it will be measured, and who it will be measured by). Basically, a SMART goal. More on that in a minute.
So now that I've bored you with the ins and outs of my job (blah blah blah), I'm going to switch to talking about personal goal setting. As I said before, I never really thought about setting goals for myself until grad school. When I started my last semester of my grad school program, I knew I needed another challenge, so I signed up for a half marathon. Crazy, right!?!?? This was really the first personal goal I had set for myself, ever. Another post for another day, but let's just say I became a big fan of setting personal goals!
My personal goals may look a little different than the IEP goals I write for students, but the idea is the same. I need something specific to work towards, but it has to be realistic, measurable, and there has to be a time element to it. I don't know about you, but most of the goals I've had for me in the past have looked something like this:
*drink more water
*read more books
*be a better friend
*get more sleep
Sound familiar? I would bet that most of you reading this (all three of you?) have had goals like this in the past. (You may have even called them resolutions.) These are all AMAZING resolutions with very good intentions. The problem with these goals is obvious-they aren’t specific, measurable, or time-bound, and because of that, they aren’t achievable or realistic. It’s like going on a road trip without a map. While it can be fun, it can take a lot longer to reach your destination…and what exactly is your destination? Without a plan, a road-map of sorts, I was setting myself up to fail because I didn’t ever really have a clear idea of where I was headed. I was wasting time and resources, and frustrating and discouraging myself in the meantime. I was not setting SMART goals. What is a SMART goal? I'm so glad you asked!
SMART goals means that they are:
Setting SMART goals means you can clarify your ideas, focus your efforts, use your time and resources productively, and increase your chances of achieving what you want in life. Sounds awesome, right!?!? I've been writing SMART goals for myself for a few years now and I can't even begin to tell you how it has helped me stay focused, determined, and on track!
I have several goals for 2020, each fitting into one of four categories: mind, body, spirit, and relationships. Click here to see my goals.
A few years ago, one of our Health Education teachers shared with me a method he teaches to his class for goal setting, and has followed himself. Obviously this can’t be done with ALL of my goals, but for priority goals, it’s a great method! I have to big “body” goals: to participate in my first half ironman triathlon and to reach my goal weight/size. One of these is more measurable than the other (either I cross the finish line or I don’t!) but I believe they will work well together.
2020 Action Plan (by 8/30/20)
1 . Set a goal
To fit into size 2 pants (currently size 4)
Lose one inch off of waist (from 27 inches to 26) and one inch off of hips (37 inches to 35)
Finish my first half ironman triathlon in under six hours.
2. Steps to Reach Goal (Objectives)
Write/follow training plan
Drink at least 64 ounces of water each day
Follow nutrition/macros plan (exception: no tracking on long run days (over 13 miles)), with extra carbs two days prior to long run days)
Each Sunday: plan out meals/workouts/runs one week at a time (week starts on Monday)
3. Identify Sources of Help and Support
Training plan (google docs)
My Fitness Pal app
Family and friends for accountability, encouragement, and workout ideas/inspiration
4. Evaluate Progress
Starting measurements (weight, waist, hips, thighs, upper arms, bust) on January 1, 2020 vs. finishing measurements on August 30, 2020.
Keep journal to track mileage, weights, workouts, nutrition, etc.
Check off workouts (running and weight training)
Weekly weigh-ins (Sunday)
Bi-weekly measurements (waist, hips, thighs, upper arms, bust)
5. Reward Yourself
New outfit!!!! Size 2 baby!
Now you’ll notice that I didn’t set a weight loss amount, right? My goal really isn’t to lose weight but to lose fat and gain muscle, and lose overall inches. We all know that muscle weighs more than fat so you never know, I might even GAIN weight. The number on the scale doesn’t always mean all that much-it’s more about how your clothes fit and overall measurements. And of course how you feel. Just looking at the goal itself can be daunting, so this action plan breaks it down and really makes you think about how you’re going to get to your goal and how you'll know you're on the right track.
Is this a SMART goal?
Is it specific? Yes! Not much left to question here! I know exactly what I want! I want to lose fat and gain muscle through diet and exercise. I have a specific finishing time in mind for the triathlon, which of course depends not only on my training but racing conditions on that day.
Is it measurable? Sure is. I have baseline measurements and goal measurements. Taking incremental measurements along the way to monitor my progress will be important. Maybe I need to change things up, add more, take away, make adjustments. Either way, it will help keep me motivated to see small changes on my way to a big change!
Is it achievable? This is always a little tricky. You want to set goals high enough to shoot for but not so high that you’re setting yourself up for failure. Based on previous experience, I do believe this is doable!
Is it realistic? I’m not looking to become a bikini model, weight lifting champ, or elite marathoner. I just want to change the shape of my body and become stronger and healthier. I absolutely believe this is realistic if I stick to the plan. I’m even allowing a cheat meal every week and you’d better believe I’ll enjoy it!
Is it time-bound? Sure is! January 1-August 30. I got this! It won’t be easy but nothing worthwhile ever is! There is plenty of time to reach this goal, make adjustments along the way, and maybe even set a new goal along the way!
Pay attention to that last step-reward yourself! You've worked hard to reach the goal, and having a light at the end of the tunnel is a huge factor in keeping us on track. My reward after my first marathon was getting a tattoo! (Now I'm hooked!)
So now it’s out there. I’ve got a few days to get my ducks in a row and make some plans before I hit the ground running, literally and figuratively. I’m so excited to have this down on paper and to have a better idea of how I’m going to reach my goal.
Bring it on!
Want help setting a goal? Writing an action plan? I'm your girl! Whether it is for diet, exercise, learning a new skill, we’ll figure it out together! And I’d love your support, encouragement, and accountability in meeting my goal!
As always, thanks for reading. Now lets go crush some goals!