As we begin a new year, we often reflect on the past year and what we hoped to accomplish. Perhaps we are happy with our outcomes or maybe we see areas for improvement. Each year always brings many New Year Resolutions. When I managed a health and wellness center at a university, our memberships soared in January. The facility was crowded the first part of the year but by springtime it leveled out and included the regulars and a few who established the health habit of working out.Many of us start the New Year with the motivation to get healthy this year. Did your physician make health recommendations for you? Did they say?
- Lose 20 Pounds!
- Eat more Veggies and Fruits?
- Reduce your Stress?
- Move More and Increase your Physical Activity.
- Reduce the Sodium in your Diet.
- Drink more Water.
- . . .
Many times we know health and wellness areas that we can improve. One of the best things you can do to start on your road to health is to set goals using the SMART method.
How do I set a SMART goal? Make sure your goal contains all of these components:
A Action-Oriented and Attainable
T Time Specific
Let’s take water for an example. You want to drink more water and this is your first wellness goal. One of the most important things you can do to achieve success is to write your goal down.
My Wellness Goal: By February 1, I will drink 5 glasses of water per day at least 6 days each week.
By setting this goal, I have covered the following components:
Specific – drinking more water (5 glasses) per day for at least 6 days each week.
Measurable– I am able to count the number of glasses of water I consume. (Keep track on a log, calendar or your phone).
Action-Oriented and Attainable– setting the goal of drinking 5 glasses of water encourages me to increase my water intake at a reasonable level. If I decided to go from drinking 2 glasses of water to 8 glasses, it might not be as easy to attain.
Realistic– setting the goal of 5 glasses of water is a reasonable goal.
Time Specific – one month to achieve this goal helps me to establish a new habit.
Don’t know where to begin? The 2010 Dietary Guidelines set consumer messages that focus on three different areas. Perhaps you will select one of these areas and write a SMART goal to help you make the changes.
Action Oriented Consumer Messages from the 2010 Dietary Guidelines:
- Enjoy your food, but eat less.
- Avoid oversized portions.
Foods to Increase
- Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.
- Make at least half your grains whole grains.
- Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk.
Foods to Reduce
- Compare sodium in foods like soup, bread, and frozen meals and choose the foods with lower numbers.
- Drink water instead of sugary drinks.
How do you get started?
Decide on your first wellness goal for the year. Make it reasonable, specific, action oriented, time specific and measurable (SMART). Once you’ve achieved this goal, continue this behavior and add a new goal. Perhaps the next goal will be a little harder to achieve such as reducing stress in your life. Look at the specific stressors in your life and explore ways to reduce stress. How can you add balance to your life? Go through the same process and make this goal a SMART goal. Remember that it takes time and effort to make wellness changes in your life and that every change does add up. Here’s to your improved health!
Setting a Goal. (2011). Retrieved December 18, 2012, from http://healthandwellness.vanderbilt.edu/news/2011/09/setting-a-goal/
Vig, T. (2009). How to Set Achievable Wellness Goals. Retrieved December 18, 2012, from http://www.unm.edu/~market/cgi-bin/archives/004615.html
Writer: Michelle Treber, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Pickaway County, Heart of Ohio EERA, firstname.lastname@example.org
Reviewer: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ross County, Ohio Valley EERA, email@example.com