Has your therapist or counselor every instructed you to try journaling? It isn’t just for teenage girls to write in their sparkly pink fluffy diary, trying to figure out if their crush likes them back. It’s actually an awesome way to express yourself and keep track of goals and ideas you don’t want to forget. Journaling may look different depending on your goal, but they usually share a common purpose of expressing and keeping track of specific ideas, or reducing or improving on certain aspects of their lives.

Keeping a fitness journal or log usually helps you to stay on schedule and even plan ahead for workouts and meals. Tons of people keep fitness logs to stay consistent and keep track of how far they’ve come. It also feels great to be able to check something off a list.When tracking fitness goals, it is important to be clear on the guidelines of the goal in many different aspects. Lots of people choose to follow the acronym SMART when setting goals. This stands for:

S: specific

Make sure you goal is well-defined so that when you look back to see how far you’ve progressed, you can tell if you’ve made progress or not. Specificity will also help you to set your direction when attempting to achieve your goal. If it is not specific enough, you may not be sure where to go in taking the steps to get there. Consider the W’s: who, what, when, where, and how when thinking of specificity, too – if you need any help from others, specific materials or a location you will need to perform certain tasks, etc.

M: measurable

You can measure a goal by citing specific amounts, weight, a reduction of time, or something else you can actually measure. Measures should also be specific enough so that you can tell that you’ve made progress toward your goal. For example, if your goal is to be able to lift more weight, make sure you specify how much more weight, and when you want to achieve this goal.

A: attainable

When setting goals, it is important that the goal is actually possible for you to achieve. If it isn’t, you will probably just feel more defeated than anything in the end. For example, most people wouldn’t set a goal of being able to lift 100 more pounds in a week. If your goal is too lofty, it will seem scary or intimidating, and you’ll be less likely to have the passion to go for it. However, if it is attainable, the devotion and zeal to get there will come much more easily.

R: relevant

Always align goals with where you want to be in your future. People who have careers or hobbies within certain fields should try to keep their goals within those fields. If your goal is random and you have no knowledge of the topic, you may struggle to fit the time to reach it into your life. Connecting the target outcome to your interests will also make you want to go the extra mile to reach it even more.

T: timely

Finally, it is important to set a deadline for your goals. If goals have a timeline that is too short, grasping them could be impossible. On the other hand, if there is no end in sight, you won’t be very motivated to work toward it. Be sure to give yourself an adequate amount of time to get to the finish line. If your schedule is a longer, you may benefit from checking halfway or at specific points along the way. Many times, if you are trying to reach your goal within a specific amount of time, it makes you want to work harder for it and your sense of urgency will increase due to the amazing feeling you’ll get when you succeed!

Be sure to only set a few goals at a time, otherwise you may get overwhelmed or bogged down with too many tasks. Try to add a little variety into your routine so you don’t get bored of the necessary tasks.

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