Total Therapy Blog
Setting SMART Goals
The new year is here, and with it comes a time of reflection. Across the country, millions of Canadians use this time to set personal goals for the year. Last year, 3 out of 4 Canadians made a new year’s resolution. Among those who made resolutions, 65% made a resolution to improve their health and wellness (http://bit.ly/s70QMD).
Health matters, and the new year marks a time to start fresh. But how do you stick with your resolution? Surveys show that nearly half of those who make a resolution break it within the first 4 weeks. That means that by the time February rolls around, most of us have fallen off the health and wellness wagon.
There are things that you can do to improve your chance of successfully meeting your goals. First, and most importantly, is how you choose your goal. Try using the SMART goal setting framework. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. For example, take the common new year’s goal of weight loss. Instead of saying “I want to lose weight”, a SMART goal could look like this:
I want to lose weight in the new year because I want to become healthier. My goal is to have lost 8 lbs off my January 1st weight by February 1st. I will do this by walking once a day, every day, for 30 minutes, and reducing my current daily caloric intake by 300 calories. To keep track of how I’m doing, I will weigh myself once a week, and aim for a weekly weight loss of about 2 lbs. Things that will help me achieve this goal are my dog (who loves to walk), and my husband, who is supporting me. Things that may hinder my progress include having junk food in the house, and buying my lunch instead of making it at home. To avoid these barriers, I will not buy junk food at the grocery store, and I will make my lunch the night before work.
SMART goal setting is a way to fully articulate your goal, think about how you will achieve it, and set up a reasonable timeline. It also helps you identify potential barriers, and gives you a chance to come up with strategies to deal with them before they become an issue. This is a fairly in-depth process, but it’s worth it. By doing this, you can increase your chance of success. Check out Act Now BC’s website for a quick primer on SMART goal setting: http://bit.ly/tTD4n1
Another way to boost the chance you’ll achieve your goal is to tell someone about it. Sharing goals with a friend, family member, or health care practitioner can help you stay accountable. Want to work out more? Tell a friend your goal, and ask them to be a workout buddy. You’ll be less likely to jam out on a session if you know someone else is expecting you.
By telling others about your goal, you can also gain allies. If your workout partner knows that getting to the gym is important to you, they can help motivate you through the tough days. If your goal is to eat healthier, your partner can support you by bringing home healthy fruits and vegetables from the grocery store, or by finding nutritious versions of your favourite recipes. Having allies is important – it’s much easier to achieve a goal if you have a supportive group behind you.
Whatever your new year’s resolution, we wish you all the success in 2012. Here’s to a happy, healthy new year!