Get a SMART start on your health goals
2/18/2019 by Jennifer Bold, APRN, CNP, DNP
Whether you're starting a new exercise program, trying to eat healthier or find some time for yourself, setting SMART goals positions you for success.
SMART goals are:
Eating healthier sounds like a good idea. But "healthier" is pretty vague. Aim for specific goals instead, such as eliminating soda, eating five servings of vegetables a day or choosing only whole-grain breads, cereals and pastas.
Make your goal one you can measure. Walking "more" isn't as easy to measure as walking three days a week, which is a goal you can track.
Avoid aiming too high or too low. Think like Goldilocks and find a goal that feels just right. Like signing up for — and going to — a world dance class through Community Education. Signing up for the dance class, as well as Italian lessons and home repair, may push you and your schedule too far.
Losing 10 pounds a week sounds great. But it's an impossible goal that will leave you discouraged and more likely to give up. Setting realistic goals that you can meet will reinforce your efforts and keep you moving forward.
Choosing specific, measurable goals means you can track your progress over time. Write your efforts down in a journal or track them on an app so you can see how far you've come.
Here are a few examples of SMART goals:
- Exercise for 30 minutes a day at least four days a week for two months.
- Eat two meat-free dinners a week for one month.
- Spend 60 minutes of screen-free time with my children every Saturday.
- Put away all mobile devices and shut off all screens by 9 p.m. on weeknights for one month.
- Call my grandparents every Sunday afternoon for six months.
- Walk at least 10,000 steps tracked on a pedometer at least five days a week.
- Enjoy lunch with a friend at least one day a month in February, March and April.