I Know We’re Smart, But What About Our Goals?

“Goals are dreams with deadlines.” –  Diana Scharf Hunt

Bosie S. Walsh once said, “If you don’t know where you’re going how can you expect to get there?”   That’s fancy lingo for if you don’t get really specific about your goals (and write them down) you’ll never be able to reach them.

Let’s say – hypothetically – that Margaret knows that she spends too much money going out to eat for lunch plus the eating out is sabotaging her plans to lose the seven pounds she gained over the holidays.  Margaret has an eight to five job in an office and ends up grabbing lunch at one of the local fast food establishments nearby.  Margaret decides she is going to start taking her lunch to work.

That sounds easy enough.  In fact that sounds like a very doable goal.  But, there are so many things that can go wrong even with a goal that seems this simple.  What Margaret needs to do is to make sure her everyday, seemingly easy-to-achieve goal is a S.M.A.R.T goal:  Specific.  Measurable.  Attainable.  Realistic. Timely.

To smarten up her goal she needs to decide on a few things:

How many days a week can she realistically pack a lunch to take to work?  Margaret works five days a week but the answer may not be five.  The answer may be two or three, at least in the beginning. The key for Margaret is to set a goal that she can achieve, feel good about and build upon.

What is Margaret going to put in the lunch (?) leads to the question when is she going to buy the food that she needs?  This may sound silly but it is something she needs to plan for in advance.  She can’t pack her lunch if she hasn’t purchased the food to put in it.

Once some of these decision have been made Margaret’s S.M.A.R.T. goal will be written down and will look something like this:

  • I will pack my lunch to take to work three days a week, specifically Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
  • I will purchase the food on Saturday.
  • I will pack the lunch the night before.  (Goodness knows there is never any extra time in the morning.)
  • I will start on Monday.
Once you’ve established your S.M.A.R.T. goal(s) it’s important to track how well you did.  Did you complete your goal by 50%, 80%, 100%?  Goal tracking is a proven practice that breeds success.  When you become deliberate about tracking your goals you become more conscious of how important they are to you plus fuel your desire to be successful.

This process can be applied to any goal that we have and the best part is it works!


  1. Anna Reik says:

    Karen, I love this post!! Goal setting is so important no only for weight loss/fitness, but in sooo many areas of your life. I love your S.M.A.R.T. acronym too! I like how you said in your example that Margaret might only make her lunch 2 or 3 times that first week, not all 5. It almost sounds silly that she couldn’t do that since it doesn’t sound that hard, and I do that everyday. But if I made a goal to ride 6 miles on bike everyday for 5 daysI bet I wouldn’t do it all 5 days! You have to start where you can achieve it with success, then build upon that success. Keep up the good work! 🙂

    • Thanks for your support Anna. Setting realistic goals is a huge part of being successful. Success breeds success!

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