It is that time of year when we all start thinking about making changes in our lives to improve our health and happiness. Some of us will try to start exercising, while others may decide to eat healthier, manage finances better, or spend more quality time with family. Although the intentions of these goals are always noble, many of us often get discouraged or distracted when we get back into our daily routines.

So, why do many of our personal resolutions fail? Simply put, we don’t always map a path out of HOW we are going to achieve those goals and whether or not they are even realistic. The best way to stick with your health goal(s) is to make it a SMART one, here’s how:

S – Specific, Significant, Stretching

Goals should be straightforward and emphasize what you want to happen. Specifics help us focus our efforts and clearly define what we are going to do. Specific is the What, Why, and How of the SMART model.

M – Measurable, Meaningful (To You and Your Health), Motivational

If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.  In concept, the whole goal is a measure so if it’s accomplished, it’s a success. However, there are usually several short-term or small measurements that can be built into the goal. Choose a goal with measureable progress, so you can see the change occur.

A – Attainable, Agreed Upon, Achievable, Action-Oriented

When you identify goals that are most important to you, you begin to figure out ways you can make them come true. You develop the attitudes, abilities, skills, and financial capacity to reach them. If you set goals that are too far out of your reach, you probably won’t commit to them. However, a goal needs to stretch you slightly so that it will require dedication on your part.

R – Realistic, Relevant, Reasonable, Rewarding, Results-Oriented

This doesn’t mean “easy”. Realistic means “do-able”. It means that the learning curve is not too steep; that the skills needed to accomplish the goal are available; that the goal fits with your personal plan for success.

T – Time-Based, Timely, Tangible, Trackable

Set a time frame for the goal. Putting an end point on your goal gives you a clear target to work towards. If not, the commitment is too vague.

SMART Goal Examples

Vague – I am going to exercise more.

SMART – I am going to walk on the treadmill for 30 minutes a day, five days a week, for 10 weeks.

Vague – I am going to lose weight.

SMART – I am going to lose 10 pounds by March by eating at least seven servings of fruit and veggies a day and exercising 45 minutes a day, four days a week

Happy and Healthy Goal Setting!