New Year's Goal Setting
Updated: Dec 16, 2021
As we look towards the New Year and all the resolutions that come with it, I thought it would be a great opportunity to talk about how to set health goals. It's easy to think only food or exercise related goals would be considered "health" goals, but remember our health encompasses our entire self. So these could also be goals for relationships, work, decreasing stress- anything that will help you feel like your best self!
The acronym I want you to remember is SMART- this will be the framework for setting your goal. Let's walk through what each letter means:
State the desired outcome as explicitly as possible and target a specific area for improvement- the "who", "what", "where", "when", and "why". A non specific goal sounds like "I want to be more active". But, a specific goal sounds like "I will walk at least 5 days per week in the mornings to help lower my A1c levels".
Identify the specific ways you will track your progress on this goal. This is the "how" of your goal. A non-measurable goal sounds like "I want to eat more fruits and vegetables". A measurable goal looks like "I will eat 2 servings of each color of the rainbow per day. I will track this by using my phytonutrient checklist".
A goal won't do you any good if it's not attainable! Start with small, achievable goals that are outlined in specific steps. As you meet those smaller goals, work up to intermediate goals and then ones that are more difficult to achieve. An attainable goal sounds like "I will make an effort to walk at least 15 minutes three days a week, and then increase each week by five minutes until I reach 30 minutes per day".
Make sure to create a goal that you are both able and willing to accomplish. For example, If I hate running, setting a goal to work up to running a marathon may not be the most realistic goal for me. If I was setting a more realistic goal it would be something that taps into what I enjoy doing, like walking.
Set a timeframe and deadline for achieving your goal to help keep you motivated. A vague goal sounds like "I want to cook for myself more". A goal with a timeline sounds like "I will start by making dinner 2 nights a week for the first two weeks. I will then add one more night a week until I am making dinner at home 5 nights a week. By the fifth week, I should be making homemade meals 5 nights a week."
Why Are SMART Goals Important?
This type of goal setting is important for a couple reasons. First, vague "shoulds" and "desires" become more clear and generates the motivation to make it happen. SMART goals also help focus the mind using the best of both hemispheres of our brains to make our wishes become attainable. We can engage our subconscious with this method to help achieve our goals- now it knows where you want to go!
They also set a framework of simple questions to think through your goal thoroughly. This framing of goals can also give you the incentive to develop new skills so you can achieve what is that you want. Perhaps you don't want to eat out as much, but you don't know how to cook! Setting a SMART goal may just give you the push you need to take that cooking class you've been eyeing.
Choosing a Goal
The best goal you can set for yourself is one that really taps into your values, and make sure to include that when you write it down. For example, if family is something I value, then I might set a goal as "I will walk 30 minutes per day, 6 days a week, so I have the energy and stamina to play at the park with my nieces and nephews." If you don't know what your values are, or need help discovering them, there are resources out there!
As we discussed earlier, a goal needs to be both attainable and realistic, but also flexible. To use my example earlier of hating to run- maybe I hate running now, so I start with a goal of walking. But perhaps, I meet my goal of walking and feel confident and inspired to try something new, and desire something more. Now running doesn't seem so bad. I would need to allow myself the flexibility to either modify my existing goal or set a new goal that includes jogging.
As some of you may already know, I am in the process of getting my Functional Medicine Health Coach certificate. I look forward to being able to help coach you through your wellness goals in the fall of 2021. Until then, I am excited to learn and keep sharing tidbits with you to help you reach your full potential!
Sending love & health,