If you’re like most people, your New Year's resolutions have already fallen to the wayside and you have likely fallen out of the habit of changes you had hoped to make. Creating healthy, sustainable changes is not impossible, you may just need a new strategy. Perhaps you’ve heard the adage “If you aim for nothing, you’ll hit it every time.” Setting SMART goals helps focus your vision and set you up for success. Let’s take a common goal of health and fitness and run it through the SMART framework.
Specific: Clearly define your goal in tangible and specific terms. For each goal ask yourself, what does that look like? Who is involved? How does this need to be accomplished? Why is this important to me? For example, a goal to eat healthier may be defined as “I want to take a cooking class this month, cook more fresh food at home, and reduce my eating out habits. This is important so that I can be more aware of what I’m putting in my body and model healthy habits for my family.”
Measurable: Creating quantitatively measurable goals helps us track our progress and know when we’ve accomplished our goal. For example, if you want to eat healthy, you may define that to mean making 3 home cooked meals per week and bringing your lunch to work 3 out of 5 days.
Achievable: When setting your goal, be sure to push yourself but ensure that it is attainable. Achievable goals help us maintain motivation and empower us to push ourselves further once we’ve accomplished our first goal. If you currently eat out 10 times per week, setting a goal of cooking each day is probably not an attainable goal right away. You may adjust your goals to what is achievable now, then continue to push your benchmark with progress.
Realistic: Goals must be both something you are realistically willing and able to make happen for yourself. Ask yourself if this goal is relevant and important to your life? Do you have the resources, support, and drive to make this happen? If eating organic is not relevant to your health goals nor realistic to your budget, don’t include it.
Timely: Creating deadlines pushes us to stay motivated and gives us an end date to evaluate our progress. Without a timeframe, we are unlikely to accomplish our goal. For our healthy eating goal, we may break it down to say “I want to take a cooking class by the end of the month.”
What goals in your life have fallen by the wayside? Try taking a change that is important to you and making it a SMART goal.