Many of us set out to improve our health through goal setting. “I’m going on a diet this month!” “My NYE resolution is to completely change my lifestyle.” “I am finally going to start exercising!” Sound familiar? Although these goals are always so well-intentioned, they are rarely successful. So, why don’t we see the results? The issue is that we set goals that are not realistic or attainable. The key to improving your health through goal setting is making sure your goals are SMART. SMART Goals are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely. These 5 aspects not only outline the goal, but also outline the steps necessary to achieve it!
The goal needs to be clear and specific and should avoid any broad statements. For example, “I want to run more.” is far too broad of a goal. Instead, it should sound something like “I will run around my block for 30 minutes each day.”
The goal needs to be measurable in some aspect to ensure accountability. To just say you want to eat healthier isn’t good enough. There is no way to measure if you are truly keeping up with your goal or not. For example, instead of “I am going to eat healthier.” try “I am going to eat 3 veggies per day and cut down to 1 treat per week.”
The goal needs to be achievable for YOU! It is important to remember goals are something you are actively working towards. If you set a goal that is simply not achievable for you, it defeats the purpose of having that goal. For example, if you’ve never ran before, it would not be achievable to set a goal of completing a 5k run by the end of the week. Instead set a more achievable goal, such as running 1 minute further than you did the day before!
The goal needs to be realistic for you and your lifestyle. You may be able to literally achieve your goal, but if you are not being realistic about your time frame or lifestyle, you will not successfully complete it. For example, if you are a fantastic runner and you set a goal of running for an hour every day, but you are extremely busy and rarely have more than 2 free hours per week, this goal will not work for you. You must consider your lifestyle. A more realistic goal for your busy lifestyle might be, “I will go on an hour run on three evenings a week after I drop my kids off to their activities.”
The goal needs to have a time frame. This is necessary to motivate you and create a sense of urgency when working towards completing your goal. Saying that you are going to lose 20 pounds is not a good goal. Instead, say that you want to lose 20 pounds in (x) months. There is a clear and appropriate time frame outlined which makes it easy to stay on track and hold yourself accountable.
An example of a SMART goal would be “I will improve my lifestyle and lose 10 pounds by the end of the year by eating 3 veggies/day and 1 treat/week and exercising for an hour twice a week.”
SMART goals are a fantastic way to get results and are the key to improving your health! Now that you know what components are required to create SMART goals, try it out for yourself! Let us know on our social media if these tips helped you!
Genewick, J. (2020). Setting smart goals for success. Mayo Clinic Health System. Retrieved November 9, 2021, from https://www.mayoclinichealthsystem.org/hometown-health/speaking-of-health/setting-smart-goals.
SMART goal setting. HealthLink BC. (2021, January 14). Retrieved November 9, 2021, from https://www.healthlinkbc.ca/physical-activity/smart-goal-setting.