Goals vs. Tasks - Part I
Goals and tasks go hand-in-hand. You cannot successfully accomplish one without the other.
Goals and tasks go hand-in-hand. You cannot successfully accomplish one without the other. Yet, to have any chance of success, they must not be seen as interchangeable. We will discuss tasks more in part III of this series. For now, let’s focus on how to build a successful goal.
A goal is defined as, “the object of a person’s ambition or effort”. In other words, a goal is an idea of where you’d like to get to in life; a high-level view of one of your ideals. An example of a goal could be, “I want to lose 15 pounds in the next 3 months”, or “I want to be promoted at work”.
Not all goals are created equally, either. You may have heard of the term “SMART goals”. The term “SMART goal” is an acronym to define the process of setting a successful goal, and can make the difference between a successful outcome, and a disappointing outcome. The acronym, SMART, stands for:
Let’s take a look at our first example goal shown above to see how it stacks up against the SMART model:
“I want to lose 15 pounds in the next 3 months”.
The first piece of criteria to check against is S; specific. Our goal does have some specificity by identifying the amount of weight we’d like to lose, as well as the time frame in which we would like to achieve the goal. However, we failed to list HOW we are going to lose this weight. A more specific goal might read, “I want to lose 15 pounds through working out over the next 3 months”.
The next checkpoint is M; measurable. Our goal definitely has a measurable aspect to it by establishing a number for our desired amounts of pounds to lose, and the time in which we wish to accomplish this goal. Depending on the level of fitness we are striving for, we may want to adjust our goal to accommodate for the weight difference in fat vs. muscle by changing our desired weight loss from a pound measurement to a BMI (body mass index). But, for the sake of getting us started with a familiar point of reference, we will leave it as pounds for now.
Next in line is A; attainable. In order to meet our goal of 15 pounds in 3 months, we would need to average a loss of 5 pounds per month. 5 pounds a month seems doable from a high-level view. And, after just a quick Google search, we find out that the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) says, “that aiming for 4 to 8 pounds of weight loss per month is a healthy goal”¹. With the safety of our health accounted for, and an average of 5 pounds to lose per month, we can definitely classify our goal as attainable.
The next piece of criteria to check is R; realistic. This is most often the most challenging piece of the puzzle. We’ve all been blinded by passion and excitement, and over-extend ourselves in the moment. But making sure our goal is realistic is by far the most important piece. After a short amount of time researching, we can determine that in order to lose an average of 5 pounds per month through workouts, we would need to workout a minimum of one hour per day, each day of the week. Not only that, but we would need to specifically engage in cardio and/or HIIT (high intensity interval training) workouts during that hour to be effective at reaching our goal. We take a look at our schedule for the next 3 months, shift around some priorities and make the time required to achieve the amount of workouts we will need. With the detailed requirements of how we will reach our goal in mind, and the time blocked off in our schedule during the time frame of the goal, we can determine that our goal is in fact realistic.
The final piece of the puzzle is T; time bound. We started with the time of 3 months to attain our goal, and through vetting out our realistic criteria, we also established that the time per workout would be one hour each day. Therefore, our goal meets the time bound criteria at multiple levels.
After stacking our first goal up against the SMART model, we were able to emerge with a much more comprehensive goal; “I want to lose 15 pounds through working out over the next 3 months”. While the content didn’t change much for this example, the vetting process was crucial to setting ourselves up for success by checking our ideals against health and safety measures, as well as ensuring we could make the time in our schedule to meet every milestone. Next time we will review our second goal for opportunities.
¹ Source: CDC, Last Reviewed August 17 2020, cdc.gov/healthyweight/losing_weight/