Get S.M.A.R.T. About Motivation

Get S.M.A.R.T. About Motivation

It’s time to get S.M.A.R.T. about motivation. See how this business objective acronym applies to your fitness goals.


Motivation is a facet of exercise that is vitally important for individuals seeking to maintain or reach peak fitness levels. In fact, maintaining the big MO is the subject of countless articles, videos and Facebook status updates. And, when you think about it, fitness trainers, coaches and boot camp instructors make a living helping to motivate people to try hard and to do more.

Get S.M.A.R.T. About Motivation

You may be asking yourself where motivation fits with diet, exercise and sleep. And, I would suggest that motivation isn’t in direct competition with the aforementioned but an underlying component of all three. If you’re motivated to reach your goals then you’re more apt to engage in behaviors that support those goals, right? You are more likely to eat the proper foods, training in #beastmode and bank the proper amount of Zs.

Motivation can be a tricky thing however, because it can wax and wane with the stresses of life. Travel, kids, and work, are just a few important things that can hamper or impede one’s fitness-related goals. The good news is that like sleep, motivation is something that can be controlled. But how?

I know that some individuals are motivated by personal stories of ordinary people doing incredible things. In fact, if you take the time to visit any number of online sites dedicated to health and wellness you will find fitness enthusiasts that are actively sharing their trials, tribulations and victories with one another. So, if you are a mom looking to tone up, recovering from an illness or suffering from a degenerative disease then there is a strong probability that you can find a kindred spirit online who has walked in your shoes.

If you don’t find motivation in personal stories, then you can always take a look at some of the motivational videos on YouTube. These videos, featuring legends of bodybuilding from yesterday and today, have a keen ability to get you amped for a workout. Personally, I’ve used many of these videos to power through late-night cardio sessions. My favorites are those featuring Kai Green. If you haven’t watched the new Kai series on entitled “Kai Greene: A Day in the Life,” then you are definitely missing out.

But, here’s a question. Are other people’s stories of success enough to sustain YOU day-in and day-out as you strive to reach your own fitness goals?

Personally, I don’t believe that it’s possible. Each person that embarks on a journey of physical fitness must find something within themselves that keeps that fitness fire burning. No coach, no website or celebrity athlete can do this. You must do it for yourself.

I’m not suggesting that videos and virtual communities aren’t motivational because they are. I am simply suggesting that they alone, might not be enough to sustain someone long-term.

Speaking of long-term, how many times have you heard someone say that they’re hitting the gym because they have a vacation coming up or because they want to fit into a wedding dress or look good at a reunion? If you interact with people, then I’m sure that you’ve heard these utterances as they’re fairly common.

While looking good at the beach and fitting into a wedding dress are worthy goals, they lack specificity. For example, how will your eating, training and / or behavior change so that you can fit into that tailored wedding dress?

How many times have you heard someone mention the following fitness clichés when talking about goals? The sentence normally starts with “I want to…” or I just need to…” and ends with one of the following:

“…get into shape.”
“…tone up a little.”
“…tighten up.”

These are great goals but what do they really mean? At best these goals are subjective and at worse they are vague and nebulous. If you’re serious about fitness, then I would suggest that you get S.M.A.R.T. and set some goals.

The S.M.A.R.T. technique is typically used to set business objectives, however, it is readily applicable to fitness. S.M.A.R.T. is actually a mnemonic that stands for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time bound

Okay, so now that we’ve defined the word, let’s take a quick look at each component of S.M.A.R.T. then examine a sample goal.

  • Specific Goals – are clear and concise
  • Measureable Goals – include dates, measurements and/or amounts
  • Attainable Goals – are realistically achievable
  • Relevant Goals – are consistent with one another and your overall objective
  • Time bound Goals –have a pre-defined end date

A sample Smart goal might sound something like:
By January 1 I want to be 5 pounds lighter by losing at least 1 pound per month. I intend to achieve my goal by exercising 4 times per week and avoiding fast food restaurants. I will log my workouts, record my weight daily and evaluate my progress on a weekly basis. Upon achieve this goal I will set a new weight loss goal.

By setting Smart goals you are:

  1. Getting specific about what you want to achieve within a pre-determined timeframe
  2. Defining the terms of success
  3. Identifying a metric(s) to evaluate your success
  4. Proving a way to track your progress
  5. Holding yourself accountable

There is ample anecdotal evidence that supports the elusive nature of motivation but there is equally substantial proof that proper planning and goal-setting can produce spectacular results. I’m actually reminded of an adage from Thomas Jefferson which states

Nothing can stop the man [or woman] with the right mental attitude from achieving his [her] goal; nothing on Earth can help the man [or woman] with the wrong mental attitude.

Have the right mental attitude and achieve your goals!

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