Introducing FAST Goals

with No Comments

FASTWe’ve all heard about SMART goals – the idea that goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and have a timeline. Setting SMART goals can help you get very clear on what you need to do to make change or accomplish something. However, there is a new kid on the block – FAST goals.

What is FAST?

FAST stands for: frequently discussed, ambitious, specific, and transparent. Goals should be brought up and thought about when decisions are being made so that things are in alignment. It is easy to get caught up in a new task or activity and be caught way off course in a few months. A one-degree deviation can cause a huge change over time! For example, if your goal is to complete a marathon, it wouldn’t make sense for you to start swimming 7 days a week. You need to put time into running in order to achieve this goal.

Frequently discussing your goals helps to keep things front of mind. How often do we forget about our new year resolutions because we haven’t thought or talked about them in 4 months? Do you even remember what your resolution was? Frequently discussing your goals also goes hand in hand with transparency. Telling those around what your goals are helps with specificity and making sure your actions are moving towards a larger target. If you are trying to complete a marathon, you need to put time into training for it. Perhaps you need discuss with your partner who will look after the kids while you are out for your run, or you need to discuss how there need to be fewer sweet treats on the shopping list each week so you have the proper fuel to help you achieve this goal.

Kipchoge (in the orange) during his Breaking 2 Run. Source: Getty Images
Kipchoge (in the orange) during his Breaking 2 Run. Source: Getty Images

Ambitious goals can help you feel motivated and excited to tackle the challenge – they should not be wildly outrageous or you will be unmotivated to accomplish them. Ambitious goals can also make you more innovative as you try to make things as efficient as possible. With the marathon example, just completing the marathon may be ambitious enough. Setting a goal to run a sub-2h marathon would be too ambitious and you will probably give up. (Side note – a sub 2h marathon has been done once by Eliud Kipchoge. He is one of the best marathoners in the world and it took months of planning and preparation with tons of money for this to happen. He had tons of pace setters, they tried to maximize weather conditions, and they picked a flat, straight course by sea level.)

Specific goals also help you get really clear on the vision and the steps needed to get there. If you are routinely not hitting the metrics you picked something is probably off. Take a step back and re-evaluate; how can you pivot or change your metrics to make you more successful? For example, you may start your training plan by running for 30 minutes a day, 6 days a week. After a few weeks you’re finding you can’t sustain that plan and aren’t doing any training. So you re-evaluate and switch to 30 minutes a day, 4 days a week – this feels more doable and you’re able to stick to this and get the training ball rolling again.

Transparency can be a double-edged sword. Being transparent can help others support you in achieving those goals. For example, if you are trying to cut down on eating out and you share that with friends or family, it is easier to decline an offer to join or make an alternate suggestion. Social support can be huge in helping you stay consistent. Being transparent with your goals and your struggles can also help you realize when you are missing the mark with your goals or the strategies you’re taking to get you there.

I think some people are transparent in the hope that other people will keep them accountable. At the end of the day, you are responsible for your actions. Only you can truly keep yourself accountable. If you always rely on others to help you achieve your goals, you are probably relying on extrinsic motivation quite a bit. That can make it more challenging to sustain any behaviours leading to a big goal or lifestyle change.

Which one should you use?

I think that we should combine these two strategies into one! Instead of “S” in FAST standing for “Specific”, I think the SMART framework can help you get really specific about your goals. Once they’re SMART, make sure you are transparent, ambitious, and frequently discussing those goals with people around you. This gets us the best of the both worlds and can keep us moving forward!

How confident are you?

An additional step that I like to add to my goals is to ask myself how confident I am that I will achieve the goals? On a scale from 1-10, thinking about all the other things in my life, how confident am I? I try to be >7/10 on this scale. If I’m below 7 that tells me that I’m perhaps being too ambitious or overly optimistic. Maybe I need to adjust my timeline or scale back the frequency – I make little tweaks until I’m over 7/10 and I know I’m good to go.

Scroll down and leave a comment about what goals you’re working on right now!

PS. Need more help with goal setting? Sign up for our free 6-week program.

Leave a Reply