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Creating Smart Goals

The New year always brings a time of change and transformation for many. We find ourselves creating plans for eating healthier, exercising more, reading more books, or cooking more at home. Many times, these goals are abandoned as quickly as they were created. Whenever you want to make a change in your life it’s important that you plan out and create a recipe for success. The more thought you put into your goal, the more likely you will make it a reality.

A common principle is to make your goals “SMART”:

Specific: The first step to forming a goal is to visualize what you want to achieve. Do you want to lose weight? Do you want to learn a new skill or language? Do you want to meet a personal best in a sport or activity? It’s important to know what you’re working towards and the more specific the better. If you want to lose weight, how do you want to lose it? Do you like to run, lift weights, walk or is it more about cutting out food? Having a specific path to achieve your goal will make it seem more attainable.

Measurable: The next step is to further make your goal measurable and trackable. If you want to lose weight, how much do you want to lose? Losing 1lb is not the same as losing 10lbs and each weight will require its own specific plan to achieve. If you are planning on running more, how much do you want to be able to run in one sitting or over the course of a week or month? Attaching numbers to a goal makes it easier to track your progress as you work towards the finish line.

Achievable: Once you know what your goal is and have a clear and defined end point, check to see if your goal is actually possible. Do you have the time and resources at your disposal to work towards your goal? Assess what your starting point is and compare that to your end point. If you are someone who wants to run a marathon, but you struggle to run a mile, it may be prudent to start with a 5k as a goal and progress from there.

Relevant: When creating a goal, it is important to evaluate the goal in a broader context. How does this goal fit into your greater life plan? Is this goal something that brings you joy? Will working towards this goal help or hinder you in your other pursuits in life. Creating goals that fit with your life goals help motivate you to achieve those goals.

Timely: The final key to a successful goal is having a timeline. Procrastination can be the greatest obstacle to overcome in any project or endeavor we undertake. Having a clear deadline can help us keep track of our progress and can allow us to break down our goal into smaller parts. Saying “I want to run a 10k without stopping by the end of the year” is much more clear than just saying “I want to run a 10k”. You can set smaller goals along the way to keep track of your progress such as increasing your distance by 1 mile every month. Knowing where and when you should be along the way makes sure you are less likely to get lost.

These 5 principles of goal setting can help us transform goals from “I want to get in better shape” into “I will run 5 miles in under 1 hour within 6 months” or “I will increase my weights on the leg press machine by 50 lbs in 3 months”. All three goals are related to “getting in better shape”, but the last two are clear and measurable goals that place you on the path to success.

Whether your goals are fitness based, financial, educational or otherwise, these principles will give you the best chance of making them reality.


Author: Edgar Vargas, PT, DPT

Dr. Edgar Vargas, PT, DPT received his Bachelor of Science degree in Kinesiology with emphasis on Exercise Science from California State University, Long Beach graduating Cum Laude. He later received his Doctorate in Physical Therapy from Chapman University. He has clinical experience in a variety of inpatient and outpatient settings including orthopedic and neurologic. Through his treatments, Edgar aims to treat the patient as a whole by listening to and understanding the individual needs of the patient. He seeks to educate each patient so that they may become confident in managing their conditions.Outside of the clinic, he spends his time rock climbing, traveling, and relaxing with his family and friends.

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