Goal setting is important when you are working towards a Healthy Lifestyle.
SMART is an acronym you can use to guide your goal setting.
To make sure your goals are specific and attainable, each one should be:
- Specific (simple, sensible, significant).
- Measurable (meaningful, motivating).
- Achievable (agreed, attainable).
- Relevant (reasonable, realistic and resourced, results-based).
- Time bound (time-based, time limited, time/cost limited, timely, time-sensitive).
How to Use SMART
Be specific and think about your goals in terms of thinking about:
WHAT you want to change
WHY you want to make the changes
HOW you are going to achieve it
WHEN you expect to achieve it
To begin this process think about one area of your life you want to change because you want to bring more enjoyment to your life or you want to be healthier. It might be that you want to make changes in one of these areas; your diet, exercise, mental health, sleep hygiene or reduce your alcohol intake.
Be specific, you will have more success if you choose one area and focus on that for a period of time. When you see you are achieving your goals you will have the motivation to keep going.
For example you may have just had a check up at the Doctor and found you have hypertension (high blood pressure) and you have been told you need to “lose some weight” and “improve your lifestyle”. This statement is very broad, there is nothing specific that you can focus on.
Making changes in one area of your life has a positive effect and you will notice improvements in other areas. If you were to commence a weight loss program you will notice you start to sleep better, have more energy and will interact more with family and friends.
To make this more specific start by stating your goal in a precise format.
What do I want to change: I want to lose weight.
Why do I want to make these changes. I need to make these changes to improve my health, manage my blood pressure and improve my lifestyle. I am totally sick of the way I have “let myself go in the last few months”. I want to fit into all the clothes I have in my wardrobe. I cannot afford to buy anymore. I want to feel alive and sexy again.
How am I going to achieve this. I am going to achieve this by setting SMART goals and following the plan I formulate.
When do I expect to achieve it. I will set short medium and long term goals. I will have weekly, monthly and three monthly targets.
Making your goals measurable will enable you to track your progress and stay motivated. Assessing your progress will help you to stay focused and meet your deadlines.
Another benefit which is equally important is to acknowledge to yourself that you have achieved your weekly goal (an example would be to lose 1 kg weight). You will have a feeling of achievement and this will give you the encouragement and incentive to continue.
Your goal also needs to be realistic and attainable to be successful. Attaining your goals may be a challenge however this does not mean they are unachievable. Be patient and kind to yourself. Have you planned short term, medium term and long term goals?
Few people like change, identify if your resistance to change is getting in the way of achieving your goals.
Look at creative ways you can plan to accomplish your goal. Set up a support system with your family and friends to help you achieve your goal.
Seek assistance from a professional to give you a kick start. Contact a Professional Life Coach, a Wellness Coach or a Medical Professional.
This step is about ensuring that your goal matters to you, and it aligns with other relevant goals. Ask yourself if this is the way forward for me.
Your goal needs to be important to you. It needs to have significance or, otherwise, it can easily be discarded….
Revisit your initial commitment and ensure you are still on track. If you do get off track reassess your position and reestablish your commitment to your goal.
The path to success can be a challenge, It is not uncommon for people to take two steps forward and one step back. It’s the moving forward that counts.
A SMART goal must be time-bound in that it has a start and finish date. If the goal is not time-constrained, there will be no sense of urgency and, therefore, less motivation to achieve the goal.
In the case of an ongoing goal like weight loss you will have your plan divided into short, medium and long term goals. The targets you will achieve will be set at frequent intervals.
When you are setting up your SMART goal plan make sure you write it clearly and leave space for your own comments. Make your goal sheet into a poster and attach it to the wall or your fridge where it is in full view.
Celebrate each goal you achieve by getting yourself a reward or marking a series of points for the goals you have achieved. Treat yourself to a weekend away, treat yourself a new outfit. Do something to acknowledge your achievement.
The information in this article is provided for general information purposes only. It should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advise of your own doctor or any other health care professional. If you are making lifestyle changes it is a good idea to consult your doctor to discuss theses changes and monitor your health.