Goals and Fitness

I had a discussion with a Personal Trainer about goals, and how to go about setting realistic goals for clients. We discussed, for example, a client who wants to lose 20 pounds in a 4 week period – the goal is well-defined, but it is not, however, sustainable.

The interesting thing to note here is that creating a fitness agenda for a client lends itself to defining a SMART goal. Every aspect of setting such an objective highlights one or more proper goal setting processes.

For example, a common request to a Personal Trainer is to “get into shape” which is not measurable, making this goal impossible to be achieved. By clearly defining what the goal is, for example, to lose 20 pounds, or to be able to run a marathon, a measurable goal is created.

Taking the example from the opening paragraph, this goal is not sustainable. While there are ways to lose that weight in the specified amount of time, evidence shows that without changes to lifestyle, the weight will not stay off.

Removing a target date, though, may make the goal realistic, since it would eventually be possible to achieve that goal. However, since there is no date attached to the goal, it is no longer timely, and therefore is not a real goal.

Realism is also evident in setting fitness goals, with some people setting goals which are not physically possible to accomplish. One needs to look at their own reality to determine what might be a realistic goal for themselves. This is unlikely to be the same as the realistic goals for the next person.

Last, some goals are not actionable, in that they rely on an event outside the control of the person setting the goal to occur – for example, being selected to be part of a particular team. While the level of fitness to be selected might be actionable, the selection itself is not part of a SMART goal since someone else will be making that decision.

In business, goals are exactly the same. They need to be realistic, not idealistic. A classic example of this is with sales projections – many small businesses project to take over an entire market, but this is idealistic, not realistic. A realistic goal might be to become a major provider of a service within a specific geographic region.

Likewise, the goal should be measurable. Carrying on with the previous example of sales projections, the goals should include a way to measure the success of the business in reaching those goals. They should also include a time frame for reaching those goals – 6 months, a year, some fixed period.

The goals should be based on actions that are under the control of the business. Setting a sales goal is only SMART if a means of reaching those goals (for example, increasing the conversion rate on the business website) is part of the goal.

Last, make the goals sustainable. It doesn’t help you in the long run if you misrepresent yourself in the short-term.