If you had big aspirations for 2023—a big deadlift, a marathon, a change in your body size—I’m sure you didn’t translate those aspirations into the limited fail-the-box check of the SMART goal. but me an act I hope you’ve set yourself some SMART goals to guide you through the process. Let me explain.
Why are SMART goals different from Dream goals?
SMART goals have always been declared as a goal-Life hack mode, but the truth is that they were It was invented for directors to set quotas and the like for their companies (The original “a” stood for “assignable,” as in, to employee.)
SMART, as it’s talked about in today’s fitness world, is specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. Put together, this means that you set a deadline for when you expect to achieve a certain measure of an outcome. In other words, you turned it into a successful test.
And because you don’t want to fail Passing this test, creating an appropriate SMART goal means you need to set the bar low. The goal should be achievable, remember? When you look at it this way, SMART goals are not Objectives The way I used to think of the word, in the sense of big dreams that inspire us to keep going. But we can use them as benchmarks to be achieved on the way to what I will call our dream goals.
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How to dream big while still setting process goals
I’ve written before that SMART goals are overratedbut honestly, they make a pretty good framework for to treat Objectives. Process goals are things that are completely under our control. achievable by definition. For example, Going for a run three times a week is a practical goal. Eating vegetables at every meal is one of the goals of the process. Following a program that tells you to do five sets of eight repetitions of deadlifts every Tuesday is a process goal.
The goal of the process goal is to put you on the path to your big dream goal. I like to think of it this way: The goal of your dreams is a big mountain far away. You know it’s there, but you don’t know exactly after that, or how difficult the journey will be. Your operation goals are the things that will keep you on the path up that mountain. Pack your bags. Put one foot in front of the other. Or as peloton coach Tunde Owenyen said (before she told me I’d better beat my result in my last burpee): “The goal is a wish. The criterion holds us accountable.” We need both.
I cannot stress how important it is that we allow ourselves to dream big. “Take 1 minute off your 5K race time this year” can be achieved, but why limit yourself to that? “Run a 5K in under 20 minutes” is a very big dream (especially if you’re about 30 minutes old now) but it’s worth working for. The way up this mountain might be long, but he wouldn’t walk by himself.
How your SMART goals can support your dream goals
So, let’s start drawing this path. As with any trek up a remote mountain, you won’t quite know what the trail will be like until you get there. So focus on what is right in front of you and what you can control.
Here’s an example of how you can set some SMART process goals to guide you toward dreaming big Uh, maybe not can be achieved. Let’s say you are a runner and you want to be a faster runner. You can plot a flight like this:
Dream goal: Run 20-1 minute or faster 5k (one day)
- Build my aerobic base by running a few extra miles each week, until I’m running 20 miles a week.
- Run a time trial on the track, as a benchmark and so I can calculate my training steps.
- Follow the Hal Higdon Intermediate 5K Training Program as written.
- Run a Big Local 5K in my city this spring.
- Write down my time, assess my strengths and weaknesses, and define a new set of process goals for the summer internship.
See how each of these are a SMART goal?
- They are all specific enough that every day you know what to do. (You’re given your mileage and choose a specific training program, but you obviously get to choose your own.)
- Measurable: YIf you hit the miles, you can check the number of programmed workouts.
- Achievable: YYou have complete control over whether or not you go out for a run. (Obviously, if you are No You have complete control over this because of life circumstances, you can write a different set of goals that take those circumstances into account.)
- It’s related: tHey, putting you all on the path towards being a faster 5k runner.
- It is time bound: FFrom this window, you can sit down and schedule each time on your calendar for the next three or four months. (It will work backwards from the race date to find the start of the training program, etc.).
These goals define your process, and then you re-evaluate. After the Big Local 5K, do you want to do more specific 5K training to get you faster? Want to train for a marathon with base-building opportunities and love the idea of a side quest? Or you may find that your other goals in life conflict with this one – perhaps you’d prefer to take the summer off to do more rowing and return to training in the fall?
This way, you can still dream big, but know that you’re always on the path to achieving those big goals — at least for as long as you want them to be. Aim for the moon, and if you don’t succeed, at least you’ve built a good rocket ship along the way method.