The tragedy of life doesn’t lie in not reaching your goal. The tragedy lies in having no goals to reach. ~author unknown
As a wellness coach three of the phrases I most frequently hear:
- “I need to eat healthier.”
- “I need to be more active.”
- “I need to lose weight.”
Unfortunately for many of us…these phrases are just words. With only 5 months left of 2014, I would like to challenge each of us to say “GOOD BYE” to these words and say “HELLO” to living a healthy lifestyle. One step toward a healthy lifestyle is setting some health goals. One proven way to set effective goals is using the SMART goal method. This method helps take vague ideas and transform them into reality.
S: Specific—Set your goal as specific as possible.
- Instead of saying you want to lose weight, set the goal to lose 10 pounds.
- Instead of saying you want to be more active, set the goal to walk 10 minutes every day this week.
- Instead of saying you want to eat better, set the goal that you will eat a vegetable with lunch and supper every day this week.
M: Measurable—Make sure there is a way to measure your progress.
- You can measure your progress through a scale, with a stopwatch, by keeping a food/activity log.
A: Attainable—Make your health goal something that is meaningful to you.
- Set a health goal that is important and motivates you. If your doctor tells you to lose weight, but the thought of a weight loss plan makes you want to hibernate. Choose a different health goal that does motivate you. Over time, small steps lead to big change.
R: Realistic—Goals should be ambitious, but not impossible.
- Choose a goal that you are confident you can reach, but will stretch you a bit.
- Break large goals into smaller goals.
- Create a plan to do all the steps you need.
T: Time Based—Place a deadline on when you are going to accomplish your goals.
- If your goal is a large one, break it down into bite sized chunks. Create a long term plan with small sized goals.
Here is an example of the goal setting process I went through after I found myself saying, “I would like to be more active.”
S: Specific—My specific goal is that I would like to create a lifestyle habit of meeting the physical activity recommended guidelines for adults which is 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity every week and muscle strength training 2 or more days a week.
M: Measurable—I will measure my progress by keeping a daily activity log.
A: Attainable—Being active is important to me for multiple reasons: more energy, better mood, improved sleep, more fit, and decreases my chance of cancer reoccurrence.
R: Realistic—With my current daily commitments, I need to break down my physical activity goal to several smaller goals.
- Sunday—outdoor activity like biking, walking for 30 minutes
- Monday—Friday —walks on my 15 minute breaks at work (morning and afternoon) total 30 minutes day. (150 minutes)
- Thursday and Saturday—basic (at home) strength training workout—20 minutes each day
- Saturday—some type of physical activity—yard work, hike, bike, run
T: Time Based—By September 1st, this goal will be a lifestyle habit to be continued indefinitely.
This is the statement that I wrote in my day planner:
I will develop an active lifestyle habit by following my weekly plan.
Being active is a gift I give myself.
I will know I’m making progress to establishing this habit into a lifestyle by reviewing my daily activity log.
The above process will work for any health goal you establish—nutrition, activity, sleep, stress management…so how about you? Are you ready to get going with a goal?