Whether you’re in the early stages of changing some habits to improve your health or trying to keep a new year’s resolution on track, it’s always a good time to ask yourself if you’re setting SMART goals.
Our best intentions to create new habits sometimes fall short of success simply because our plans lack thoroughness. They may be too vague or unrealistic.
So what can help?
SMART goals, specifically.
What are SMART Goals?
SMART goals are a concept that dates back to at least the early 1980s. Consultant George T. Doran wrote in the November 1981 issue of Management Review that for better chances of success, goals should be specific, measurable, assignable, realistic, and time-related, or S-M-A-R-T. The acronym has shifted through the years to mean different things to different people, but the intent is to put some structure and definition around goal-setting.
S – specific. Is your goal clear? If not, how will you know when your action begins and when you’ve met your goal?
M – measurable. When a goal is measurable, you can track your progress. And that progress can inspire you to greater goals.
A – actionable (or attainable, achievable). Is your goal within your direct control? Can you achieve it?
R – relevant (or reasonable, realistic). Small lifestyle changes that are important to you are easier to achieve and keep you motivated.
T – timed (or timely, time-sensitive, time-based). What’s your timetable for completing your goal?
So, how does this apply to the goals we set for ourselves? Let’s look at some examples.
How to Set a SMART Goal
Lynn, with the support of her doctor, wants to lose weight. She says to her health coach, “I’m going to lose weight this year, and I plan to walk more often and eat less.”
Are these SMART goals, as they’re currently stated?
Well, they have no timetable other than “this year.” And the goals are not specific – yet. So how could Lynn turn these into SMART goals?
“I want to lose 25 pounds by our family vacation in August,” Lynn might say, “And I plan to do it by walking three miles on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, drinking 64 ounces of water each day, and limiting my sugar to only one square of dark chocolate after dinner.”
Lynn has created SMART goals.
They are specific, measurable, actionable, relevant, and timed.
And Lynn now stands a better chance of making progress toward her goals, and staying motivated and inspired along the way.
Let’s take another look at setting SMART goals.
Jim’s sleep quality has declined in the past year, as his workload and stress have increased. It’s affecting his relationships and his blood pressure. Jim tells his coach, “I want to get more sleep so I can be better rested and improve my stress.”
They talk about SMART goals, and Jim decides he’s ready to be more specific. He restates his goal.
“By the time I go back to my doctor in six months, I want to be sleeping at least 7 hours almost every night and only waking up once at most.”
Jim has a SMART goal, and his coach go to work, focusing on his sleep hygiene and taking action steps toward that 6-month goal.
Personal and professional goals that have been well thought out typically help us achieve the best possible result. It’s easier to achieve a goal when you’re clear about what you’re working toward.
So what SMART goals are you working on right now? Comment below or send me a note.
Hi! I’m Amy, an integrative health coach, offering grace and space for a healthier you. I partner with people who want to create new habits to improve their overall health and well-being. Click here if you’d like to work with me through coaching, and subscribe to my Well Check emails here.