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Setting SMART Goals and Achieving Them

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!! January is always a great time to talk about goals as it feels like a fresh slate! 

Do you often struggle with where to start when you are faced with a new challenge?  Setting goals is a good way to streamline the process and break the steps down into something more manageable.  To help, we are going to talk about SMART goals.  When you think of the word SMART, you may think wise, intelligent, witty, on the ball.  And yes, SMART goals can be all of those and some.   


Let us take a deeper look into these SMART goals and discuss how they can benefit you along with ways to reach them.  


SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely.  SMART goals are a way to thoroughly think through a process.  Too often people will have a grand goal they would like to reach, but then struggle and wonder why they are failing.  That is likely because they did not think through the actual steps that need to be done.   


So what are SMART goals and how do you create one? Let’s start at the beginning and look at its parts:  


Specific:  When thinking of a goal, the more specific you can make it, the easier it is to determine when it has been met.  Too often people have a goal of “I want to lose weight”.  This of course is a good goal to have, but it does not provide much insight into what would be considered a success.  Alternatively, a goal of “I want to lose 10 pounds by cutting out soda and sugary drinks from at least 2 meals each day over the next 5 weeks” is a more specific goal. It identifies what will be done,  how it will be done, how often things will be done, and by when.  


Measurable: With any goal, there must be a way to measure success, otherwise you are just chasing a dream without a net.  In the above specific goal, there are a few measurable items.  1) The loss of 10 pounds. 2) The number of meals each day that the activity will occur. 3) The timeframe by which it will be done.  These are your guides.  Each week, you can look back and see how often you were able to achieve what you set out to accomplish.   


Attainable: Is this goal reachable? Is it truly possible that it can be done within the timeframe stated? For example, a goal of losing 10 pounds by next week, would be a very challenging goal for most to reach. Therefore, it is not attainable, whereas losing 1-2 pounds by next week is something that many people have been able to do successfully. This would be a more attainable goal to reach. 


Realistic: This is different from being attainable.  Attainable just means, can it be done?  The realistic part is asking yourself if you believe YOU can do it?  Yes, it should be a challenge, but not so difficult that you end up giving up and throwing the whole attempt out the window.  So be realistic with yourself and ask yourself, “Is this something I truly believe I can do?” Do not worry about what you believe others want you to do or even what others have been able to do individually.  You are not them and they are not you.  This is where you need to be honest with yourself in what you feel YOU can achieve.  We want you to be successful and feel empowered.  Goals that are too big of a stretch can leave you feeling defeated. 


Timely: Your goal should have an endpoint, something to strive towards. Otherwise, you lose the urgency in it, which often leads to excuses.  The time aspect of your goal should also be realistic.  Ask yourself when you would like to see yourself accomplish your goal or how frequently do you want to try to do the activity.   


SMART goals are designed to make you think deeper into what you truly desire and what you truly feel you can do and by when.  It’s ok to have several small SMART goals to help you work towards a larger SMART goal in the future. It’s also OK to change the goal!!!!!  Again, we want you to be successful, just as much as you want to be successful.  If what you thought was realistic turns out to not be, it is OK to make modifications.   


Try writing out your own SMART Goal and share it with your dietitian at your next visit.  We will be here to support you and provide guidance along the way!


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