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How to add flexibility to your SMART goals

Flexible Goal Setting - How to add flexibility to your SMART goals

We’ve all set goals for ourselves. Sometimes we’re wildly successful but other times we fall short and end up abandoning our goals because it “just seems impossible”. Much of our stumbles can be equated to us approaching our goals with an “all or nothing” mentality. You set a goal for working out every day for an hour. Next thing you know you get sick, your kids get sick, you have to work longer than anticipated one day, you have a last minute school assignment, insert any of the hundreds of life circumstances that can derail hitting your goals. 

That’s where flexible goal setting combined with SMART goals can change the narrative of you hitting your goals. 

We’ve all heard of SMART goals. Goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time Bound. This format helps us pick goals that are important to us but also are something achievable and that we can measure to see progress on. A lot of time though we all fall into the trap of making goals that seem very reasonable but can be derailed which diminishes that success and makes us feel like “what’s the point” that’s where adding flexibility into your SMART goals can increase your success. This helps you build momentum into still succeeding.

How do flexible SMART goals look in practice? Let’s take exercising as an example.

A common SMART goal for exercising may look like this:

Beginning next month I want to run 5 times a week for 30 minutes to improve my 5k run time by two minutes for my 5k race in May

Seems like a good goal right? Now what happens when we miss a run or two. Some people may see that as a minor setback and just jump back into the plan. What about those of us with a more “all or nothing” personality? World’s over, I’m a failure, and I will never succeed. Sound familiar? This is where more flexible goal setting can help us. Let’s add some flexibility to the goal.

Beginning next month I will run 3-5 days a week for 20-35 minutes to improve my 5k run time by two minutes for my 5k race in May

Same goal but it builds in room for variance and increases the likelihood of success week to week. You have a busy week and are only able to get 3 runs in. You still hit your goal which helps us feel more accomplished and confident. One day you were short on time and you couldn’t fit in a full 35-minute run but you had time for a 20-minute one, still consider this a success. This builds up our positive momentum and encourages you to stick with goals even through difficult times. So, how can you add some flexibility to your goals this year?

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