Often, when we start a new year, we make resolutions and plans to improve our health, or work toward a big goal. As a dietitian and health coach, my work focused on supporting small changes that lead to healthier lifestyles. Reaching a big goal starts with setting SMART goals. SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound.
Many people want to be healthier, but what does that look like for you? Be specific. Healthier could mean you are able to walk up the stairs without feeling winded OR you are taking your medications as prescribed OR eating a variety of fruits and vegetables every day.
Set measurable goals to see your progress along the way. If you are working on increasing the amount of water you drink, pick a specific glass and set a goal to drink a certain number of glasses per day. Tracking these goals on paper can help you stay focused, see patterns, and make adjustments so you can be successful.
Start with small, attainable goals to stay motivated and move toward larger goals. Are you currently exercising 1 time a week? First increase to 2 times, make that a habit, then build on. Attainable goals are within your control. You may want to lose 10 pounds, but that is not always something we can change. Focus on habits that you can control to set yourself up for success.
Relevant goals keep you engaged in the process. If someone tells you something you should be doing, it often doesn’t take long for that goal to lose purpose. Select goals that are important to you and pick a habit that you are ready to change.
Time-bound goals are both short and long term. Think about what you want to do in the next 3-6 months to reach a one-year goal. For example, you might say by the end of 2022 I will be eating 3 servings of fruit daily. To reach that long-term goal, set a short-term goal to get started (ex. I will eat one serving of fruit at lunch every day this month).
What will you do this week, month, or year to make steps toward a healthier lifestyle? Be SMART and have fun!