I believe I first introduced my interest in SMART goal setting with my Vision Board post. For my Vision Boards, I’ve separated my goals into different categories–relationships, health, finance, career, etc. (For more on the overall principles of SMART goals, see this article.)
I struggled when developing my individual short term and long term goals within each category, especially because the Health, Personal growth, Self-care, and Spirituality categories overlap a lot for me. How can you isolate your emotional health from your physical health? How do I separate emotional and physical self-care? And do I need to?
As with my SMART financial goals, my current health goals already fit into the short-term, mid-term, long-term format.
Short-term goal setting is about the habits I’m forming to reach the goal. Mid-term goal setting is about celebrating the achievements along the way and also about fueling the habits by providing some level of return. Long-term goal setting is the actual goal. Yet, each of these three are SMART goals. For example:
Keep working out 3x a week
Run an official 5k before 30
Get a one-year tracking badge
The SMART approach to goal setting can be incredibly helpful for those failing to meet their ideals in the heath category.
Take weight loss, for example. Some people might begin their goal with “I want to lose weight.”
But how do you want to do it? What’s your time-factor? What’s your ultimate goal? Break down the elements of SMART goal setting to make smart goals.
Specific: This is the part of goal setting where you get real. For example, I want to increase my activity by 30 minutes three times a week and track my caloric intake. Over the long term, I want to lose ten pounds.
Measurable: Ten pounds is measurable. As is working out three times a week for 30 minutes. I don’t think of “measurable” as “knowing when I’m done.” For me, measurable is about creating achievable goal posts to show you’re making strides.
Achievable: In this instance, I proposed generically tracking caloric intake, rather than immediately starting on a super restrictive diet of 1,200 daily calories or fewer. All goals should be customized to what works specifically for you. For me, the first time I eat one too many brownies, I may feel that I’ve failed and can give up on the whole endeavor. We don’t want that. So while “achievable” means not trying to do the impossible–like lose 50 pounds in one week–it also means finding goals that YOU can achieve and not setting yourself up for failure. You know yourself better than anyone. For some, diets like Atkins or Keto or the Whole 30 work. Others find them restrictive and end up rebounding into even unhealthier habits.
Relevant: Are the elements of your goals relevant to your overall aim? If your overall aim is to lose weight, exercise and calorie tracking is the strategy to achieve it. But if your ultimate goal is to become strong enough that you can carry more boxes next time you move, then you’ll need to throw in some weight lifting.
Timely: Goals should have end dates. This is more difficult with physical health goals. I don’t like looking to straight weight lose for timely goals. The “I want to lose 10 pounds in four weeks” mentality has always resulted in unhealthy, disordered eating for me. But imagine a non-scale victory (NSV). In two months, I want to walk up five flights of stairs without being short of breath. By summer, I want to feel great in my favorite sundress.
Are you using SMART goal setting in your life? Have you found it useful in achieving your health goals?