How to Set S.M.A.R.T. Health and Wellness Goals for the New Year Keep Healthy By Setting Achievable Goals


Happy new year THS! It’s that time of the year again. New goals, new challenges, and new resolutions. Just like every year, I woke up on January 1st with a myriad of aspirations for the year. In the past, my new year's resolutions have had one thing in common - they were set up for failure. They were grand, unrealistic, and too ambitious. So, this year, I decided to do something a little different. I adopted the S.M.A.R.T. method to set myself up for success.


Here at the PE department, we would like to help our THS families to have a healthier 2019 by adopting this method for all their health and wellness aspirations. This year to our delight, we have heard parents, staff and even some students say things like, “I want to be less stressed and more healthy this year,” or “I want to lose weight so I can be healthier.” While these are fantastic new year’s resolutions, a better approach to your intentions is to set attainable goals using the “SMART” method.


To make sure your goals are clear and reachable, they should have the following S.M.A.R.T. characteristics: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-framed. See below for the specific descriptions regarding each characteristic.


Specific. Clearly state what you want to accomplish. “Get healthier” can mean many things — get stronger, eat more vegetables, get better sleep or be more mindful. But even these are too general. You need to be specific to make sure you know what you are trying to achieve.


General goal: “I want get in shape this year.” ✗

Specific goal: “I will go on a run three times per week at 7 a.m. to get in better shape.” ✔


Measurable. Make sure you can track your progress with measurement. When you can measure your changes, you can clearly track your progress.


General goal: “I want to lose weight.” ✗

Measurable goal: “I want to lose 10 lbs in 2 months.” ✔


Attainable. You can set ambitious goals, but make sure that you break down the goals into attainable steps. If you haven't eaten vegetables since your mom force fed you green beans, then starting a plant-only based diet is probably not feasible.


General goal: “I want to be less stressed and more mindful of my stress.” ✗

Achievable goal: “I will use the Headspace app to meditate every night before sleeping.”  ✔


Realistic . Be ambitious but make sure it’s realistic! Vowing to get up every morning to go for a run before work may be setting you up for failure, so instead, how about going for a run three times a week after work? Remember, hit one milestone and then reach for another.


Unrealistic goal: “I am going to stop eating all unhealthy food.” ✗

Realistic goal: “I am going to limit myself to one teaspoon of sugar in my coffee.” ✔


Time bound. Specify when the result(s) can be achieved. Setting an end date for a goal gives you something to work towards and can help keep you motivated. Remember, you don't want to have the “there’s always tomorrow” excuse. Give yourself a date and make yourself accountable.


General goal: “I want to lose 10 lbs.” ✗

Timely goal: “I want to lose 10 lbs by May 1st.” ✔


By applying this simple but effective method in goal setting has really helped me reach my targets.


I have just one more tip to leave you with - build motivation by doing it with a small group. We are all familiar with that feeling of dreading the exercise and making excuses to get out of it. A great way to give you the much needed extra motivation is to enter into a Wellness/Health SMART Goal Contract that you and your whole family or perhaps with a circle of friends or colleagues can fulfill together. The premise is simple - by entering into this agreed set of goals, you keep each other on track. Studies have shown that starting out on a new fitness journey is better with friends than going it alone, and it can help you to push your limits and finally achieve significant, lasting results.


Let’s make 2019 a year dedicated to health and wellness together.


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