How to Make Smart Goals for Your Health
Many people cross into the new year with the intent to be healthier. Common resolutions are to get more fit, lose weight and get more regular exercise. Unfortunately, those New Year’s resolutions are often forgotten by the end of January because they are not supported by smart goals and a plan to achieve them.
Stop making New Year’s Resolutions! Create SMART Goals
SMART goals are:
Making your health goals specific will help you achieve them. What do you want to accomplish? What is most important to you? Consider setting achievement goals and action goals. You may want to achieve a goal of losing 30 pounds, but you also need to set action goals to help you get there. One health goal may be a commitment to not eating after 7pm which can reduce the number of calories you consume. Another health goal is walking for 30 minutes for 3 days per week to help you achieve the weight loss goal or to improve fitness.
Lay out a detailed plan of what success looks like, so you know when you have achieved it. Plan to make yourself accountable by writing down the measurement of your health goal. It may be keeping a walking or exercise log to track the number of times you exercise. Put regular goal and measurement checks on your calendar so that you do not forget your priorities.
One of the most important factors in setting health and activity goals is making sure they are realistic. You may have a goal of running a marathon but picking a smaller goal is important when getting started. When it comes to setting health goals, make it simple!
When it comes to setting health goals, think small, do not try tackle too much and limit the number of goals. Making a grand goal is nice to shoot for, but make sure you do not injure yourself doing it. You may want to reduce low back pain or to avoid flare ups of shoulder pain. You know that if you do your exercises regularly can keep the pain away. Setting a specific goal of doing 5 minutes of stretching exercises for 3 days per week may an achievable action goal that will keep you out of the physical therapists’ office.
Think about the achievement goals, are they important to you? You may want to run a half marathon but consider how it relates to your other health and personal goals. If your schedule is too tight to train, your “goal” may be a dream that could be postponed. Consider how your action goals relate to your achievement goals. Many times, people have the goal of losing weight and becoming more “toned”. This usually means they want to lose body fat and increase lean muscle. Setting a health goal of doing cardiovascular exercise for 60 minutes for 4 days per week may not be the best way to achieve that goal. Doing resistance training 3 days per week with 3 sets of 8-12 repetitions may be a better way of transforming your body by reducing body fat and increasing muscle.
Do not forget to put timeframe on your health goals. It not only helps you determine if you are meeting your goals but can decide if that goal is still important to you in 3- 6 months. Nothing will kill a goal quicker than a shift in priorities. Do not be afraid to discard goals that are no longer important.
Other tips for achieving your health goals
Make it social
Making healthy or unhealthy choices are easier when you are doing it with someone else. If your goal is to exercise regularly, set a time to do it with a friend. Meeting on a video chat to do an exercise video may allow you to stay accountable even when you cannot meet in person. Trying to stop smoking? Ask your spouse or friend to do it with you.
Do not give up
Sometimes goals fizzle because you initially fail to make it a priority. Decide if those things are important and plan to get started again. Often the failure to move a goal in the right direction is that the actions or steps to achieve them was not included or continued.
Keep it simple and set health and fitness goals that are important and realistic can help you make meaningful long-term changes that will jumpstart your health in the coming year.