Goal Setting - The SMART Way

Goal Setting - The SMART Way

Posted by Maria Bond on Dec 12, 2016

Estimated reading time: 4mins

SMART goal setting

As the new year draws closer, many of us will be starting to think about what we hope to achieve in it.

I have fallen into the trap of making New Years resolutions many times in the past. Usually I’d find they would only last a month or two before they were forgotten and I’d end up going back to my old ways.

Why didn’t they stick? Well, like most people I was setting wish-washy resolutions. I’d aim to exercise more, get fitter or lose weight. I’d start off the year strong, but because my goals weren’t specific enough, I’d lose interest and give up.

Year after year I’d find myself making the same resolutions and getting to the end of the year and feeling like a repeat failure. I knew I had to make a change.

A few years ago I learned about the SMART method for goal setting and I’ve never looked back. I can honestly say this way of planning has been one of the biggest factors in my lifestyle change.

What is SMART goal setting? SMART is actually an acronym for all of the points your goals should follow.

SMART goals are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable/ Attainable
  • Realistic/ Relevant
  • Time bound


Rather than just saying you want to lose weight, set a specific goal. For example, you want to lose five kilograms. Or instead of saying you want to get fitter, set a goal of running five kilometres in under 25 minutes. The same goes for wanting to get stronger. Don’t just aim to get stronger, aim to dead-lift or squat double your body weight.


Can you track the progress you’re making towards achieving your goal? Once your goals are more specific, it’s easier to measure whether you’re getting any closer to achieving them.

Keep track of your progress in a diary or even make notes in your phone. That way you can look back and see how far you’ve come!

Achievable/ Attainable

Your goal also needs to be attainable to be successful. In other words, it should stretch your abilities, but still remain possible.

Try to avoid setting goals that someone else has the power over. For example, getting a promotion. The outcome of this goal is dependent on various outside factors, such as the hiring manager and the capabilities of the other applicants, therefore it isn’t entirely dependent on you. Instead aim for something more within your own personal reach. For example, getting the skills and experience needed to be considered for a promotion.

Realistic/ Relevant

This step is to ensure that your goals matter to you and that they align with other facets of your life and lifestyle.

The main questions to ask yourself here are:

  • Why do you want to reach this goal?
  • What is the objective behind this goal?
  • Will this goal really achieve that?

Setting a goal of wanting to start a family, when you’re not currently in a relationship, is an example of an unrealistic goal. Even if you meet someone tomorrow, this may not be a shared goal of theirs.

Time bound

Set a time frame for when you want to achieve your goals by so you can keep yourself on track. For example, losing five kilograms by my birthday. This way you can break it down and know that realistically you need to lose one kilogram per month.

Here’s an example of my 2016 goals and how I went with them this year:

  • Run five kilometres in under 25 mins – achieved 24:46 on 23rd April.
  • Run ten kilometres in under 53:43 (previous PB) – achieved 52:20 on 16th March.
  • Compete in a bikini/fitness comp – competed at the INBA All Female Classic in June and placed in three out of the four divisions I entered. I went on to compete at the INBA Victoria State Titles, placing in all four of the divisions I entered (including the fitness open and sports model open divisions) which earned me qualifying status for the Nationals.
  • Get my body fat under 23 per cent – got to 11 per cent for both of my competitions.
  • 200 kilograms leg press for minimum five reps – achieved 285 kilograms for ten reps.
  • Dead-lift 80 kilograms for a minimum of five reps – achieved 100 kilograms dead-lift for five reps.
  • Complete the Dandenong Ranges 1000 steps in under ten minutes – achieved 9:41.
  • Launch my own iPhone app (Run Buddy) – went live in the app store on 26th January and is growing every week.

I’ve achieved some pretty big things in the last two years following this method. I’m excited to start thinking and planning for next year! Watch this space as there are some big things to come!

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