Goals are essential to any lifestyle change. However, it's easy to set yourself up to fail when you make goals that are too large (e.g., quit smoking cold turkey), too vague (e.g., get healthy) or too unrealistic (e.g., start jogging today.)
The key to success is to remember to be SMART. This is your way to remember the 5 parts of successful goals:
S is for Specific
What will you do, when, were, even with whom? Specific goals are things like “My husband and I will take a walk through the neighborhood after dinner tonight for 30 minutes” or “We will buy 1% milk instead of whole milk on the next trip to the grocery store.” Those goals are much better than “I’m going to exercise” or “I’m going to eat a low fat diet.”
M is for Measurable
How will you know when you have reached your goal? For example, “I’ll put 8,000 steps on my pedometer” is measurable. “I’m going to walk more” is not.
A is for Action-Focused
Focus on what you will DO, not what you want to change. “I’m going to get in shape,” or “I’m going to lose weight” aren’t about the actions you need to take. “I’m going to walk for 30 minutes 3 times this week,” or “I’m going to pack my lunch instead of get fast food tomorrow” are action-focused.
R is for Realistic
Can you really do this? Can you do it at this time? If you haven’t exercised in 15 years, a goal of working out at the gym for 30 minutes is destined to fail. “I’m never going to eat fast food again” is unrealistic, but a goal of limiting to once a week is much more likely to be reached.
T is for Timely
Are you ready to do this NOW? Don’t set a goal of eating healthy snacks when your kitchen only has sugary or fat-filled snacks. Don’t set a goal of nightly walking before you set a goal to buy a comfortable pair of walking shoes.
Good luck practicing SMART goals! You’ll be setting yourself up to succeed.