Setting SMART Goals

By Emily R.

“New Year, New Me!” said everyone everywhere on January 1st – but how many of us do actually grow into a “New Me”? There is something sentimental about the new year. I know it’s just another day, but it seems to be something more than that. For some, it’s new beginnings, new adventures. For others, certain chapters may be coming to an end. Whichever side you find yourself on, the New Year can be a great motivator to set New Year’s resolutions. As with all new things, you may find yourself falling short at times. One of the easiest things you can do to help yourself obtain your goals is set them up properly in the first place. I am a Registered Dietitian so I do a lot of goal setting with my patients. One of the first things I review with them is how to set SMART goals.

SMART is an acronym. It stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely.

Specific – when setting goals try to be as specific as possible. For example, if I said “this year I want to live a healthier lifestyle” well okay that’s great, but what defines a “healthy lifestyle”? Is that to be more physically active? Quit smoking? Or if your me, stop eating chips?…. all the time…. If we set specific goals, it will make them easier to measure.

 Measurable – by making your goals measurable, if will be easier to track your progress. If I said “I want to be more toned” – that could be interpreted many ways. Instead I could said, “My goal weight is X” or “My goal body fat percentage is X”. If we know a way to measure our goals, it makes them more attainable.

Attainable – if you set a goal to ride a bike more often, but you don’t have access to a bike? Well that’s not very attainable is it. When setting goals, if we want to be successful then we have to be realistic.

Realistic – this one is a little bit more obvious, however, sometimes this is the biggest hurdle I have when setting goals with patients. Usually when feeling motivated it’s easy to feel over ambitious – which can be great in many ways but also leave you with rose colored glasses. It would be very ambitious to set a goal of running a marathon in 6 months if I’ve never ran a day in my life, however, setting a goal of running a 5k might be more realistic. Try to make sure you don’t bite off more than you can chew. It’s great to keep in mind what your future goals may be, but don’t stretch yourself so thin to where your destined to fail.

Timely – putting yourself on a timeline to reach a goal can be a great motivator, but it can also be discouraging if you don’t keep all these aspects in mind. When setting a goal, give your self adequate time to reach your goal. 

With all this being said as you work towards your new goals remember, if it were easy everyone would do it.

Xx – Emily

Helpful Hint – studies have shown that writing your goals down changes the likelihood of you fulfilling them more than you’d think! If you’re looking for a way to make your New Years resolutions ‘stick’, try writing them down in your planner or somewhere you’ll see them everyday!

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