Health, Scrum and SMART GOALS

With the new year comes hope for renewal and a fresh start. The desire to stay fit and lose weight are usually among the Top 5 New Years resolutions year after year. By mixing Scrum with SMART goals, you can cook up the right recipe to keep broken resolutions away from your dreams.

Scrum is a lightweight process that helps to uncover challenges to your New Year's resolutions. Start with a simple one week sprint. This will give you enough time to make progress, while it is a short enough time for you to adapt as needed. Allocate about 1-2 hours to perform Sprint planning in two parts. In part one, focus on a SMART goal, then make a plan of actions or activities focused on your SMART goal. As you're executing on your plan, have a focusing moment to review what has happened and determine your next steps in execution. At the end of the sprint evaluate your progress. Did you accomplish the goal and meet your targets?  Also, evaluate how you did this week and determined how to improve in the next sprint. Start the next Sprint on time and make whatever adjustment that you needs. Even if you fell off the wagon, use the same target with the improvements that you figured out. None of us are perfect, and that is ok.

Remember that your goal is focused on accomplishments, not activities. You may miss the mark on activities and still have the ability to accomplish your goal. Whether your goal is performance based, developmental or a unique project, you want them to be built on a foundation of SMART goals, which refers to a mnemonic that gives criteria for creating goals and objectives. There are many variations of the meaning behind each letter, but the here is the original version presented by George T. Doran in the Management Review - November 1981 issue:

S = Specific

M = Measurable

A = Attainable

R = Relevant

T = Time-Bound

Let's break these steps down.

"Specific" refers to a clearly defined target or area of improvement. Keep it straightforward and smart with a clear focus on the six W’s - What to accomplish, When to complete it, Who is involved, Why it is needed, Where to do it and Which requirements and constraints. For example, I consistently have a problem drinking water, especially on training days. A common not so SMART goal - “Drink more water.” However, this can easily be converted into a SMART goal, which covers the six Ws - “I need to drink 64 oz of water each day to help with digestion and hydration."

"Measurable" refers to establishing tangible evidence based targets that are realistic and can be accomplished. Understand how you will measure the target. This allows you to measure progress against the goal and track any milestones so that there are no questions about it being completed. A common not so SMART goal. “I want to trim my hips and thighs." Let's make this goal a little smarter - "I will do 20 single legs squats for each leg each day this sprint." You can even take measurements at the beginning and end of each Sprint to evaluate to progress.

"Attainable" refers to a goal that is achievable. Is it possible? When it is feasible, it will help to motivate people. The opposite happens when impossible goals are created. Proper motivation will help you develop the skills necessary to meet the target. A common goal is running a 5K. For a beginner, a good SMART would be: "I will run 90 seconds then walk 2 minutes for a total of 20 minutes 3 times with a one day break between each day."

"Relevant" goals are critical for your ability to reach the target. If your goals do not focus on the person or motivation that started you on this journey, it will weaken your foundation and undermine your efforts. Remember that desire is a great motivator, so don't mix other targets with ones that are focused on the objective. These things can act as anchors of constraints to your progress. Keep your goals focused on the goal at hand.

"Time-Bound" refers to identifying a definitive target date for completion and the frequency of the associated actions of the goal. A fixed time box is a naturally built in characteristic of Scrum. All goals should be small enough to be completed in a single sprint. Just focus on achieving the goal by the end of the time box. Don't worry about all those other dates. Stay focused on this particular sprint. It will establish a sense of urgency or simply spark that fire. This is one of the most important components of staying motivated by maintaining transparency while removing obstacles and solving problems along the way.

Every year we set resolutions at the beginning of the year, and the reality is that the majority of us fail to achieve them. Think about how many people you know that have failed by the first or second month of the new year. Whether you are using a fitness device to stack up or you are focused on not using tobacco products anymore, you have to stay motivated to achieve them. By using setting SMART goals and using Scrum to facilitate the process, you will turn those dream and desires into super-powered actionable goals that drive results and fans the desires of your dreams or New Year's resolutions.

Good luck and have fun.