One of the most critical elements to achieving success in any endeavor whether you're trying to lose weight, improve your health, or seek greater personal and professional fulfillment is the process of setting goals.

Goal setting is an important part of understanding and identifying progress throughout your fitness and wellness journey.

More importantly it provides you with a roadmap for direction and clear action.

You wouldn't start a trip without identifying where you're trying to get to first. The same goes for your journey through personal health and fitness.

Not all goal setting processes are created equal in order to maximize your success.

How to get S.M.A.R.T.:

Write down the letters "S M A R T," down the left hand side of a notepad. These letters represent an acronym that stands for, "Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely."

SMART goals will not only help you decide what your goal should be, but also increase your ability to stay laser focused and committed to your plan of action.

Let's walk through each step:

"S" stands for specific.

To ensure success you must be crystal clear about what you want to accomplish.What exactly do you want to change?

Why do you want this particular change to occur?

Setting specific goals will result in a much better performance than just setting easy goals.

Just saying that you "want to lose weight," is not specific.

Keep your goals aligned with your own personal ideals and ambitions.

An example of a specific goal is, "I want to lose 20 pounds so that I can look good and feel great while I'm on vacation with my family."

"M," stands for measurable.

Can you measure your progress towards your goal?

Being able to assess your progress and see how well you're coming along will help you become more determined and committed to your goal.

If your goal is weight loss be sure to weigh in weekly to track how you're progressing.

"A," stands for attainable.

Is your goal actually something that you can do?

Setting goals that you can visualize yourself actually achieving will make you more committed.

Research shows that you're more likely to stay committed to a challenging goal versus an easy goal.

"R," stands for realistic.

Are your goals realistic?

Are the skills and structure in place for you to be able to achieve your goal?

Break down your goals into smaller more manageable tasks. This can make what seems unrealistic less daunting and achievable. Accomplishing smaller goals will keep you motivated.

"T," stands for timely (Time Bound).

Putting a timeframe on your goal will help keep you on target.

The time frame you decide on must coincide with other aspects of your program.

For example losing 20 pounds in four weeks is unrealistic and not attainable.

On the other hand, if you give yourself a time frame of 12 weeks to lose the same 20 pounds, that might be far more realistic.

So, let's pull this all together into a SMART goal statement:

"I will lose 20 pounds in 12 weeks by consistently eating healthy food and exercising at least 30 minutes a day."

That is how you get SMART with your goal-setting.

Using this technique will allow you to work smarter not harder when pursuing your Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time Bound goals.