Setting SMART Goals and Building Habits

Learn all about setting your first SMART goal and achieving long term habits.

Choosing to change your lifestyle is no easy decision. Making the first step can be hard. SMART goals will empower you to build habits that last. There is no room for quick fixes here. The end goal is not perfection but to cultivate a sustainable and attainable healthy lifestyle for yourself.

How to build long lasting habits

Our reasons for wanting to build better habits for ourselves may vary. You might want to lose weight, drink more water, or manage underlying symptoms of a chronic disease. Wherever you are in your health journey, setting goals and creating habits takes time and dedication, along with a long journey of self-love and patience.

When people set goals that are too big to handle, they tend to struggle, feel defeated, and in turn, see no improvements in their health. Identifying what you value about your new habits can help prevent you from failing. However, having said that, there is absolutely nothing wrong with failure or struggle. In fact, it will help you learn and grow. Often, we figure out what we want when we realise what we do not want.

If you’re struggling with sticking to your goals, try and approach your goals by asking yourself why they are important to you. Why is maintaining a healthy lifestyle important to you? Then list out the goals that you see align with becoming the best version of yourself.

Why you should set goals

Setting goals will give you a finish line – something to work towards and a direction that you need to head in. Goals can also increase motivation.

Goals can also be overwhelming, especially when you see how long and the many steps you need to get to where you want to be. Although large goals will provide a direction, they do not always give you a clear picture of your journey. Often, the rewards will seem too far away to provide motivation. That is why setting smaller goals along the way will help you stay motivated while still keeping your larger goal in the picture.

When penning out your health goals think through the following questions:

Learning how to set SMART goals can help you set tangible goals and objectives, including short-term goals or long-term ones.

What are SMART goals?

SMART goals is a popular acronym used to plan out goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. Let’s look into these one by one.

Specific

Create a clear and specific goal that describes the outcome and target of an area for improvement. Vague goals do not provide you with direction. Get as specific as possible by answering the ‘who, what, when, where, and why’ questions.

Measurable

Map out how you will measure your progress and re-evaluate your goal. Here you need to use some sort of metric to document progress and confirm that your goal has been achieved.

Attainable

Set an achievable goal that you can accomplish within a timeframe. Start with small goals so that you will not get discouraged and move on to larger ones.

Relevant

Be realistic with yourself and create a smart goal that is in line with your ultimate goal of achieving a healthier version of yourself.

Time-bound

Make sure your goal has a start and finish date.

How to write your first SMART goal

Now that you know what SMART goals are, it is time to set your first one! Visualise the big picture and start to break it down into achievable steps.

Write down your specific goals

The first into making goals a habit is to be specific and outlining your goals. The trick to setting smart goals that you can achieve is to think smaller. While always keeping the bigger picture in mind, small changes will lead to big results. Sticking to smaller goals is more manageable and they will also help keep you motivated since you are more likely to achieve them.
  • Example of a broad goal: I want to lose weight. 
  • Example of a specific goal: I will increase my daily movement by going on a walk for 15 minutes a day. 
Another important tip is to write down your goals not just think about them. The act of putting it on paper can strengthen your commitment to it. And ticking something off a list will definitely increase your motivation.

Track your progress and measure success

Once you set your smart goals, you will now need to define how you will track your progress and measure your success. For example, I will increase my daily movement from walking for 15 minutes daily to going for a bike ride for 30 minutes, three days a week (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday) from 5.00pm to 5.30pm.

Your long-term goal can still be to create a healthier lifestyle for yourself but defining specific parameters will help track your success.

Make your goal achievable while also preparing for obstacles

Setting achievable goals also means that you keep in mind that there will be obstacles along the ways. Ask yourself about the tools and skills you will need to succeed and address the obstacles that you see before starting such as lack of time, no access to a gym, lack of information, etc. You can plan your way around these potential falls and then create a more attainable goal. 

Break down your goal into smaller steps and outline checkpoints to complete your goal.

Check in with yourself

Setting a time-frame and checking in with yourself is very important when setting SMART goals. Keep track of how far you have come and how things are going with your progress by keeping a journal, taking progress photos, etc. This will allow you to look back see how much you have accomplished.

Consistency is key when trying to stick to a new habit or routine and keeping track will help you identify is you have been consistent or falling short. 

Reward yourself

It’s important to recognise your progress and give yourself mini rewards when you hit certain milestones or achieve small goals. This will help you stay motivated and will make the journey more enjoyable. 

Building habits takes time so know that there is always the possibility of starting over. If at first you don’t succeed, try again! Failure is an opportunity to learn from your mistakes and grow into make more healthy decisions for yourself. 

Take comfort in the fact that you can create a better version of yourself, any time!

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