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Setting SMART Goals

The SMART plan can help you stick with your goals. Here's what the letters stand for:

Specific - Be specific about your goals. Set goals that address the results you want. Your goals should challenge you. But they should also be within your reach. What do you want to have happen or what do you want to achieve?

  • Example: My goal is to participate in physical activity at least 3-5 days per week.

Measurable - Choose goals that have results you can measure. You need a way to measure the progress and some specific criteria that will tell you when you can stop and the goal is achieved. Feeling the progress is very important for you to stay motivated and enjoy the process of achieving the goal.

  • Example: I'll cut my smoking in half by the end of the first month of the wellness program.

Attainable - Can you achieve your goals? You don't want to discourage yourself. Keep in mind that you can always raise the bar after you've reached your first set of goals. An attainable goal is a goal for which you see a realistic path to achievement, and reasonable odds that you get there.

  • Example: I will consume an additional fruit and vegetable every day by my first assessment.

Rewarding - A goal is rewarding when you have clear reasons why you want to reach that goal. This is one more place where it is important that the goal is really yours. Give yourself non-food rewards. How will you reward yourself along the way? Will it be when you achieve your goal? When you pass a milestone on the way to that goal?

  • Example: When I complete the 8 week Zumba fitness class, I'll reward myself with a new CD.

Imagine how you are going to feel when the goal is finally reached. This will ensure that the goal is really worth achieving. Then, every time you get stuck and don't feel motivated enough, remind yourself of the end reward. This is a known and very powerful practical technique of how to get through difficult moments and not quit.

Trackable - How will you track your progress? Doing so helps you to see a slip as only a brief setback that you can easily overcome.

  • Example: I'll put a gold star on my calendar each day I don't smoke. I'll hang the calendar on the refrigerator.
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