New Year, new me! Isn’t that the motto? New Year’s resolutions can serve as a wonderful opportunity to self-reflect and set goals about how to live a healthier life.
However, these goals can be easily forgotten by spring if they are not S.M.A.R.T: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely. S.M.A.R.T. goals are more effective because they give people something to work toward and a guide on how to get there. S.M.A.R.T. goals are the difference between “I want to start running more” and “I will start running more by running at least three times a week for 30 minutes”.
Specific: Be very precise when setting your goals. The 5 W’s can help you create them. Who does it involve? What is the goal? Why are you setting the goal? Where will you start? Which tools do you need? Eating healthier sounds like a good idea, but how will you achieve that?
Measurable: Now that you have a goal in mind that is specific, you can think about how you will measure your progress. How much? How many? How will you know if the goal is accomplished? Going on a walk three days a week is a goal you can easily measure.
Achievable: Make sure your goals are attainable or it will be challenging to follow through. Accomplishing a goal can be a very rewarding feeling. If you can complete your goals, you can use those feelings of accomplishment to help you make another goal. Avoid aiming too high or too low. Think like Goldilocks and find a goal that is just right.
Realistic: Set yourself up for success by making sure your goals are realistic. Vowing to never eat junk food ever again is a difficult promise to keep. To make that goal more realistic, you could try to eat at least one serving of vegetables five times a week at dinner. Setting impossible goals will likely leave you discouraged. Choose goals that you can meet to reinforce your efforts and keep you moving forward.
Timely: Look at your schedule and make sure you have enough time to achieve your goal. This will bring you clarity about what to expect of yourself. Treat your goal like a doctor’s appointment, and reschedule if you know you will not be able to accomplish it on a certain day.
Below are some other examples of S.M.A.R.T. goals:
- Eat two vegetarian dinners per week for one month.
- Practice yoga or meditation every Saturday morning for two months.
- Go for a walk after dinner at least three times per week.
- Spend 60 minutes of screen-free time with friends or family every Sunday.
- Eat a serving of fruit with breakfast at least four times a week.
Whether you’re trying to start a new exercise regimen, eat healthier, or find more time for yourself, setting S.M.A.R.T. goals can help you set yourself up for success. Setting realistic goals increases motivation and can lead to lasting lifestyle change. Health is extremely dynamic and how you treat your body over time has the most impact on it. You don’t have to wait for New Year’s Eve to start making small changes to live healthier and happier. Try and set a S.M.A.R.T. goal whenever you feel like you need a positive change.