Goals: they can work for you or against you. For better or worse they exist and no doubt you plan to make good use of them. Goals can be harmful when too much emphasis is placed on the “promised” results. You must dedicate yourself to the process because it is only when you actively commit to the process the results will come. You can view this as pushing through a short-term struggle for a long-term gain.

Another way goals can work against you is if they are not adequately structured: this is where the idea of ​​SMART goals come in. If you set your goals according to SMART, you will be more likely to succeed.

Let us look at two areas where setting SMART goals can be of great assistance: exercise and weight loss …

S – Specific. Starting with S, your goals must be specific. Wanting to lose weight and get in shape are not specific targets. They are broad goals and it would benefit you to be more particular about your intentions.

Losing twenty pounds and increasing your fitness so you can swim 500 meters are good examples of specific goals. As you can imagine, in the case of exercise and weight loss these goals work together. Losing twenty pounds will improve your fitness, and working on your fitness will help you lose weight.

M – Measurable. Your goals must be measurable. Fortunately, it is easy to track changes in your weight. You will have to be honest with yourself in regards to how well your fitness is coming along, but that is as tough as it gets.

A – Attainable. It may seem ambitious or feel uplifting to set challenging goals, such as getting a six-pack or getting in shape to run a 10km race. But in all likelihood, such goals are overzealous and would end up demoralizing you.

Start with simple goals. Make sure they are attainable.

R – Relevant. Your goals must be relevant and consistent and so should your methods of achieving them.

Let us use the six-pack example again. If you are aiming to become healthy through weight loss and improved fitness, it is unnecessary to seek to have a six-pack. Not to mention it is unhealthy to get to that point.

T – Timely. Many people think it is important to set a timeline. But it is not – and it could be counter productive.

You must, however, be able to achieve your goals in a reasonable amount of time: this does not mean quick – think sensible instead. If you see yourself spending many months on your fitness and weight loss goals, cut them down into smaller goals.

It is much easier to keep your motivation high when you tackle three mini-goals of losing 10 pounds, than aiming to lose 30 pounds. It is purely a matter of perspective, but it does make a positive difference in your mindset.