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Set SMART Fitness Goals

Your fitness goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound

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— Adie Bush/cultura/Corbis

Setting goals also has the potential to make us unhappy — if we fail to reach them. Perfectionists in particular fall prey to this trap. Take the woman, for example, who decides to limit herself to 1,500 calories a day to lose weight. On Tuesday, for some reason, she overeats and fails to hit her goal. Since she missed the mark, she decides to overeat the rest of the week and start over on the following Monday.

Still, with all their shortcomings, we need goals. How would we ever reach our destination if we didn’t know where we intended to go? Setting goals is really how we try to define the future; that’s why I express my goals as desired outcomes. Through experience, I’ve discovered that adding this requirement — knowing how to achieve the results — puts a brake on my thinking. Instead, I spend time reflecting on what I truly want to achieve.

The prevailing wisdom about how to articulate goals is summarized by the handy acronym SMART (from MindTools.com):

S = Specific

M = Measurable

A = Attainable

R = Relevant

T = Time-bound

Next: Measure your fitness progress. >>

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