How to Set Goals the SMART Way

One of the most common mistakes people make on their health and wellness journey is that their goals aren’t properly set. Whether it’s because their goals are too vague or too overwhelming, oftentimes people find themselves discouraged and giving up on their goals. One simple strategy to combat this is to set SMART goals.

What Are SMART Goals?
SMART goals are a goal setting strategy which is used by students, parents, and professionals alike to accomplish their objectives. The acronym helps to guide its users to set their goals realistically and achieve them in a quantifiable manner. To create clear and well-defined goals each one should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely.

How to Use SMART Goals:
Specific: By setting goals that are specific, you will avoid having vague goals like “I want to lose weight” and “I want to get healthier.” Because these goals are so vague, we don’t know where to begin to accomplish them, and we don’t have a certain benchmark to signify when we’ve met our goal. A good way to make sure your goals are specific is to see if you can answer the questions “who, what, where, when, why, and how?”

Measurable: Another key aspect of proper goal setting is to make sure your goals are measurable or quantifiable. Using the example of “I want to lose weight,” we could improve this goal by saying how much weight we want to lose. “I want to lose 10 pounds” gives you a set number to shoot for, and a way to see once you’ve achieved that goal.

Attainable: Attainable goals are achievable and usually tailored to your own individual abilities. Let’s take a look at the goal “I want to be more creative by dedicating 2 hours on Wednesday nights each week to paint/draw/write.” For some people 2 hours once a week is easily attainable, but for others 1 hour once a week, or maybe 1 hour twice a week may be more realistic and work for them. Knowing your own limits and setting your goals accordingly will give you goals that are within reach, and, once achieved, goals that will keep you motivated to work towards your next goals.

Relevant: This letter usually has the most questions associated with it because if you’re the one setting the goal, isn’t it relevant? The answer is that not every goal may be relevant to you or what you want to accomplish. For instance, if you want to eat healthier you may set the goal to “Only buy produce from farmers markets”. But this goal is not necessarily pertinent to your main goal of eating healthier and overcomplicates the situation. A more relevant goal would be “Swap 1 processed snack item for 1 whole food item the next time I visit the grocery store”. By making sure your goals are realistic and something you truly want to accomplish, you can ensure that with every step you are working towards your ultimate goal.

Timely: The last step in setting SMART goals is to make sure that your goals are set on a timeline. Having a deadline will keep the goal from becoming a permanent item on your to-do list and will help you prioritize your goals. Even goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, and relevant can fail if there is no deadline for them to be reached by. The goal “I will be able to run a mile in under 10 minutes by running four times a week” can be improved by adding a date to test to see if you have reached your goal. Our new goal reads “I will be able to run a mile in under 10 minutes one month from today by running four times a week.” This quote by Greg Reid says it all: “A dream written down with a date becomes a goal. A goal broken down into steps becomes a plan. A plan backed by action makes your dreams come true.”

A few examples of SMART goals to get you started:
“I would like to lose 10 pounds in 2 months by eating healthier lunches and snacks, and by exercising for 1 hour three times a week.”
“I want to swap out one processed food item from my diet for a whole food item each day this week.”
“I want myself and my family to eat out one less meal per week each month for 3 months.”
“I will reduce my stress by taking half an hour each night before bed to read/meditate/journal/unplug.”
“Twice a month I will plan a night for myself by getting a babysitter and doing something I would like to do/don’t normally have the time to do (seeing a movie, getting a massage, painting, gardening, scrapbooking, seeing live music, et cetera).”

By making goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely you’ll be able to tackle small to-do’s, and seemingly daunting tasks alike. With these strategies at your disposal you will soon be on your way to accomplishing your goals and living the life you want to live. “Goals. There’s no telling what you can do when you get inspired by them. There’s no telling what you can do when you believe in them. And there’s no telling what will happen when you act upon them.” —Jim Rohn

Go get ‘em, tiger!

Assistant Creative Director

Cassandra Emelianchik is passionate about health, cooking, and all things creative. She will graduate from the University of Florida with a degree in Business Administration and plans to pursue a Master’s degree after graduation.

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