Effective goals are SMART goals. Sometimes we set health goals for ourselves that are hard to reach. No one wants to fail, but when we hit bumps in the road, we get discouraged. Using the framework below to set goals will improve your chances of meeting the goals that you set for yourself.
Specific: Detail, detail, detail. The more detail you can add to a goal the better because you can better judge if you are meeting it or not. For example: identify the time, location, along with who you might be completing the goal with, etc.
Measureable: It’s much easier to check the progress of a goal if it can be measured. For example, if you think you want to lose weight as a goal, don’t just say, “I want to lose weight.” Say, “I want to lose 10 pounds in three months!”
Action-based: Without this vital step, goals are worthless. The best of intentions are just that – intentions. Be clear on what actions you will need to take. It’s simply not good enough to want to do something. If progress is desired, then action is the ingredient that will make it happen.
Realistic: Make the goal a little bit of a stretch for yourself to accomplish, but don’t set yourself up for failure. Unrealistic goals, like losing 100 pounds in 3 months, could hurt your self-confidence if you don't reach them.
Time-oriented: Don’t rush to see progress. Make your goal your own by putting your own timeline on it. Success is really about the journey not the destination. Also, remember to be specific. It’s better to put an exact date on your goal, like March 1st, versus, “I will achieve my goal sometime in the winter.”
Sample S.M.A.R.T. Goal: I will lose 10 pounds (one pound each week), by March 1st, 2013, by working out four days each week and allowing myself to stick with a 2,000 calorie per day eating plan.