Setting SMART Goals for Your HealthPublished on Monday, January 09, 2023 by
When January 1st rolls around, I’m always ready for a fresh start.
I start by cleaning up the holiday decor, and then I look to clean up my habits. In my flurry of excitement, I tend to draw up a lengthy list of goals and intentions for the new year. However, the bout of motivation I normally have at the beginning of January typically wears off by mid-February, and my goals get left by the wayside.
Perhaps you can relate to this struggle and find that you associate New Year’s resolutions more with disappointment than life-altering change. This year, let’s strive to take a different approach.
When setting health and nutrition goals with my patients, I like to use the SMART goals approach. This stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely. Let’s break this down.
Specific- Be as clear as possible.
Answer questions like “What am I accomplishing and where will I do this? With whom?”
Measurable- This outlines how you will measure progress.
These can be quantitative, such as a number on a scale. Or it can be qualitative, such as feeling more energized or results obtained from a survey.
Achievable- Set a goal that is within the realm of possibility.
If we set overly lofty goals, it can be disappointing when we don’t achieve them. I always recommend starting small and progressing toward your goals as time goes on.
Relevant- This refers to how well your goal fits within the vision of larger goals.
For example, if your greatest desire is to cultivate a healthy lifestyle, then a specific goal of baking 4 new dessert recipes each week may not align.
Timely- Lastly, set a timeframe by which you would like to achieve your goals.
Once you have one in place, you can set goal check-ins to track your progress and re-evaluate every so often. As a bonus, include a time when you plan to act on your specific goals.
Now let’s put this into practice. Let’s take some intentions and create SMART goals for them:
Intention: I want to eliminate nighttime acid reflux.
Smart goal: I will start cooking my dinner between 6-7 PM five days a week in order to digest my meals before my 10 PM bedtime.
Intention: I want to become more fit.
Smart goal: I will walk the dog at the neighborhood park for 30 minutes after I finish work 6 days each week.
Intention: I will decrease my grocery bill.
Smart goal: Each Sunday, I will write out my grocery list using the coupons in the weekly ad to keep my bill less than $100 for the week.
Now, it's your turn! Whether you call them resolutions, intentions, or goals, increase your chances of success by using the SMART approach.
Savannah DuffyMS, RDN, LD