Starting 2020 right: SMART Goal Setting

by Holly Priestland

January 1, 2020

2020 is officially HERE!

We’re guessing you’ve planned to make this year even better than 2019.
Achieve more. Be better. Look back this time next year and see how far you’ve come.

You probably have at least a couple of items on your New Year’s Resolutions related to your health and fitness:

  • Maybe you want to lose weight in 2020?
  • Maybe you’re looking to finally uncover that elusive 6 pack?
  • Perhaps you’re trying to add some muscle?
  • Or you’re trying to get faster, stronger, more flexible…

We’ve all had these goals.

We’ve also all had times where we’ve seen our friend crush their goals and flaunt their 6 pack a few months later, whilst we have either fallen off track or somehow never quite got around to starting…

How can we avoid this?

 Over the next few weeks, Fortitude will be taking you through a series of practices and lessons around goal and habit setting, nutrition, and exercise to make sure you are set up for success.

2020 is about to be your year!

So, where do we start?

We’re going to start with the goals themselves.

Surprisingly, we often doom ourselves to failure simply by what we write on the page.

Let’s take one weight loss and one fitness goal as an example.

If we have a weight loss goal, we might write:

2020 Goals: Lose weight

One of us with a fitness goal might write:

2020 Goals: Go to the gym more

If this is how we write our goals, I can tell you write now the likelihood of us succeeding is pretty close to 0%.


These goals aren’t specific enough.

How are you going to measure your success? How much weight do you need to lose to have succeeded at your goal? How many times do you need to go to the gym?

When do you want to complete these by?

What we need to do:

Set SMART Goals.

SMART stands for:

  • Specific
    What EXACTLY do you want to achieve?
  • Measurable
    How are you going to measure whether you have succeeded?
  • Achievable
    Is this goal within your reach?
  • Realistic
    Is your goal related to your priorities?
  • Timely
    By what time do you want to have completed your goal?

Using this framework, let’s take our weight loss and our fitness goal and make them SMART:

“Lose weight”

Specific = Lose 5 kg / 3% body fat

Measurable = Lose 5kg on my bathroom scale / 3% body fat on a DEXA scan

Achievable = How lean are you now? Is 5kg reasonable? Consult with your coach for help!

Realistic = Are you willing to set up your life to support this goal? How will you do this?

Timely = Lose 5kg on my bathroom scale by April 5th 2020

“Go to the gym more”

Specific = Go to the gym at least 4x per week

Measurable = Go to the gym at least 4x per week, and track in my calendar

Achievable = Can you fit 4x per week in your schedule? Would 3x be a more achievable place to start for you?

Realistic = Are you willing to set up your life to support this goal? How will you do this?

Timely = Go to the gym at least 4x per week every week until at least April 5th 2020, and track in my calendar

Now THESE are some better goals.

The more specific you are when writing your goals, the more likely you will achieve them, because you are already imagining ways to fit them into your life and schedule.

But we aren’t done, we have one more simple tweak to make these goals more effective.

The language we use to write our goals is very important.

If we just say:
“Lose 5kg….”

“Go to the gym…”

… we haven’t fully created any mental “buy-in” from ourselves yet. We aren’t invested.

Likewise, if we write:

“I want to…”

“I hope that…”

… we are already giving ourselves room for failure. We are saying there’s a chance we might not succeed.

If we are using negative language, even worse:
“I won’t eat unhealthy foods”

“I will stop bailing on the gym”

We are putting into our mind the behaviors we want to STOP doing – meaning we will think about them ALL THE TIME… do you think this is beneficial to help us achieve them?

Probably not.

Instead, we want to make sure our goals are written in POSITIVE, AFFIRMATIVE language.

Let’s take our weight loss and fitness goal, and finish them up.

It’s as simple as adding “I will”, or “I am”:

I will lose 5kg on my bathroom scale by April 5th 2020

I am going to the gym at least 4x per week every week until at least April 5th 2020, and track in my calendar

Now we are telling ourselves that we WILL achieve our goals.

We are setting ourselves in the right mindset.

SMART goal setting is step one in setting ourselves up for success in 2020.

Over the next few articles, we will cover HOW to make sure we crush our SMART goals – starting with how to set up accountability.

Message us or comment below with your SMART 2020 GOALS!

Need help with goal setting?

Reach out to us at

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About Holly Priestland

Holly is a nutrition and strength & conditioning coach. She specialises in weight loss and performance nutrition. She also does personal training for women's strength and weight loss. Her mantra: "Fall in love with the process, not just the results - the process is what got you there."