Many people set health goals as a part of their New Year resolutions, however, most fail to achieve them. Goal setting is an essential part of achieving your health goals and can be used any time of the year.
Why set goals?
Goal setting provides motivation and guidance to help you towards a healthier life. It can also help you maintain new healthy habits and stay injury-free on your path to improved health.
What are SMART goals?
SMART goals are:
Specific: Make your goals very specific. A goal of “get healthy” is not specific; however, goals of “stop smoking by March 1,” “eat five servings of fruits and vegetables each day,” and “get 30 minutes of exercise 5 days each week” are specific.
Measurable: Make your goals concrete enough to allow you to track your progress. For example, a goal of “get 30 minutes of exercise 5 days each week” is measureable because you can count the minutes that you exercise and can also count the days you exercise.
Attainable: Set goals that are achievable. Remember that life sometimes gets in the way of achieving some goals. For example, a goal of “running every day” is not attainable. Start small and use those small goals as stepping-stones towards a larger goal. This allows you to celebrate small victories along the way to achieving your larger goal.
Relevant and Realistic: Assess where you currently are to make relevant and realistic health goals. Self-assessment will help you understand goals for which you are willing to put in work. If you do not yet know how to do something proficiently, such as riding a bicycle, setting a goal of riding 10 miles a day on a bicycle is not realistic, as an example. A more realistic goal would be to first learn how to ride a bicycle and then build up mileage every week.
Time-bound: Setting a timeframe is one of the most important aspects of goal setting. Deadlines provide motivation to achieve a goal by a specific time and can help fight against procrastination.
Goal setting and tracking tools
There are many options available on the Internet if you need help with goal setting or would like tools to help you track your goals. Similarly, there are also a wide variety of books on goal setting available at your local library and bookstore.