S.M.A.R.T. Goal Example #1 – Weight Loss

Posted on January 6, 2012 | in Goal Setting, Personal | by
smart goal weight loss

Don’t just make a list of resolutions – apply the smart goal framework to each resolution.


As a follow-up for defining S.M.A.R.T. goals and their benefits, it’s probably important to try out some examples. First, a very common resolution: weight loss.

The above list of resolutions is the polar opposite of S.M.A.R.T. None of it is specific, measurable, truly achievable, directly realistic, nor time-based. As vague as goals can get, that’s what this list provides. We can do better. How can we create a S.M.A.R.T. goal and plan for losing weight?

You have to define the who, what, when, where, why, and how of the goal in order for any vagueness to be rooted out. First, how much do you want to lose? Experts (read: a Google search) says that you should aim to lose about 10% of your weight as an initial goal but it puts no timeframe behind it. For the sake of the example, let’s say you want to lose twenty pounds. That’s the “what” portion of the goal.

The next question you need to ask is “why?” Why is this goal important? If it’s not truly important to you, you’re less likely to abide by the change. If it’s critical to your livelihood you will make it a greater part of your life. So why do you want to lose twenty pounds? Maybe it’s so you can fit into your old clothes, or because you want to be healthier, or because you want to run a marathon one day. Either way, if it’s important enough you’ll make the sacrifices for it. Remember that.

How long do you want to take to do it? Let’s say six months. There’s the “when.” Twenty pounds in six months because you want to be healthier.

Now, there are two “how” components for this goal – how you will do it, and how you will measure progress. Let’s take the latter one first. You’ll want to measure at the same time every day (when you just wake up) and in the same physical state every day (i.e. same quantity of clothing, pre-shower, pre-breakfast, pre-coffee) so that you have a consistent baseline to which you’re measuring. You’ll also want to record this on a regular but consistent basis – either daily or weekly – so progress can be monitored.

And the second “how” would be the how you will make the actual change. With weight loss, think of your body as a closed “system” where what goes in must come out. If more goes in than comes out, you will gain weight. To lose weight you have to have more come out than goes in, which comes in the form of eating less and/or better as well as exercise.

So exercise – do you want to do this on your own or at a gym? What will get you to where you want to be with your goal? Do you want to utilize a personal trainer? Determine what exercise routine you want to follow. You’ll need to make sure you have the right equipment (shoes, clothes, etc.) and you might be looking at investing in a gym membership.

Because exercise is something that takes time, it would be best if you scheduled time for it and fit it into your life but that means that other sacrifices will have to be made.Maybe after work you don’t go to the bar with friends until the weekend or you quit watching football during the day on Saturday and Sunday. This also helps settle the “where” and “when” portion of the goal.

And food – how will you improve your food intake? Will you outlaw sweets from the house? How about better in-home meal planning? Would you consider joining a Weight Watchers group? If you cut out enough bar time and dining-out time, not only do you cut unwanted calories or bad intakes but you also help save money that will possibly fund your gym membership or those high-quality running shoes.

Lastly, you should consider the “who” – who is going to help keep you on track besides yourself? Maybe a friend, a significant other, a workout partner at the gym, or a trainer.

So let’s look at the SMART goal now.

Who: Me plus assistance from the trainer at the gym, plus my significant other helping me stay on track
What: Lose twenty pounds in six months, measured and recorded daily right when I wake up
When: Within six months, plus going to the gym five days a week plus a running routine of three miles per day
Where: At the gym and in my neighborhood
Why: Because I want to be healthier and to fit into my old clothes better
How: Using Weight Watchers, less going out for dinner and drinks, using the gym
Sacrifices: Less time at bars and eating out, money saved goes to shoes, athletic clothing, and gym membership

This goal is specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-based. A lot was written, but only because there are lots of choices that can be made to go about in completing this goal. Sometimes things need a little bit of time and research (this gym or that gym, which shoes, what is Weight Watchers, etc) but you’re educating yourself while at the same time working to progress on your goal.

More goal examples to come!

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