What are SMART goals?

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Ready to make some changes in 2020 but don’t know how to start?  SMART goals are the perfect place to begin.  SMART goals are meant to help you take a big lofty goal and find ways to break that goal down into realistic habit changes.

What does SMART stand for?

S: Specific

M: Measurable

A: Attainable

R: Realistic

T: Timely

Specific:  This is to help you be less vague when it comes to making goals.  An example of a vague goal is that you will go to the gym twice this week.  With this goal, Friday can come along and you still have not had any physical activity.  How can you make this goal more specific?  I would say that you will go to the gym twice this week on Wednesday and Friday from 5 am to 6 am.

Measurable: Making a goal with specific measurements helps you determine if you have actually accomplished this goal or not.  An example of a non-measurable goal is that you will lose weight next month.  A way to make this goal have measurable outcomes is:  I will lose 7 pounds in the next 30 days.

Attainable: This helps you make goals that you can actually accomplish.  If you are on a fixed budget and don’t have funds for a personal trainer then you can’t make the goal of having a personal trainer 3 times a week. A more attainable goal would be that you sign up for a mid-level gym and experiment with a new class each week to find the motivation to work out more.  This helps you get the motivation to work out from an outside source but stay within your budget.

Realistic:  This is to keep those lofty goals from being too lofty.  An example of an unrealistic goal is that you will lose 20 pounds in a month.  One, this goal is not healthy and has been proven to actually damage your body and increase risk of weight regain.  Two, it is pretty much almost impossible to accomplish. A more realistic goal would be to lose 1-2 pounds a week for the next 30 days.

Timely:  This keeps your goals from stretching on longer then they need to be.  Don’t make goals that you will forget about or won’t be able to keep up with.  An example of an untimely goal would be that you will write in your gratitude journal every day for the next 6 months.  This is not setting yourself for mental success. Making this goal more timely will help you have small “wins” and successes that lead to more permanent changes.  EX: I will write in my gratitude journal every day for the next 7 days.

I personally recommend that you have a few SMART goals going at a time in different areas that you want to change.  Some areas that are good to focus goals in are:

  • Functional food choices
  • Physical activity
  • Stress management
  • Sleep habits
  • Education/learning

You’ll know it is time to expand upon your goals once you have either completed them or they have not been successful in making change.  If a SMART goal you have set doesn’t ever get completed it might mean that it was either too big and not simple enough to be accomplished or you were not really ready to make that change.  The good thing is that you can then choose to make a simpler SMART goal that might be more attainable. Also remember that if you can’t seem to accomplish a goal it might not be SMART enough.

Just remember that these goals are meant to make permanent lifestyle changes.  They should be sustainable and something you are willing to continue with for the long haul.