Posts Tagged ‘goal setting’

Happy BirthdayWhen it comes to birthdays, people seem to have mixed emotions.  Kids look forward to turning a year older, counting down the days until their next birthday and often saying their age with the “and a half” added to it.  Children also look forward to their milestones – becoming a teenager, turning 16, then 18, then 21 – for various reasons.  Eventually, though, the years begin to pass more quickly and the birthdays seem to just keep coming.  As adults, some of us are happy to have our birthday come around again while many would prefer not to think about it.

When a birthday arrives, it may seem like any other day; you have to keep stopping to remember that the day is extra special.  Sometimes you might forget, remembering only when someone walks by you and says “Happy Birthday!”  Because I personally am prone to this tendency, years ago I started observing the week of my birthday and celebrating all week long.  By doing so, I am not forcing myself to cram all my excitement, thoughts, and feelings into a 24-hour period in which eight hours are spent sleeping.

I like my birthday and look forward to it every year. I always have!  How about you? How do you feel about your birthday?  If you’re in the camp that doesn’t like having a birthday and turning a year older, it may be helpful to focus on your birthday as a celebration of another year of life.  The American Cancer Society once had a campaign called “More Birthdays” in which they observed and celebrated years lived well to see a world with more birthdays.

youth-570881_640Taking a positive approach to birthdays in which you express gratitude for your health and life may actually improve your overall attitude and outlook in the days to come!  My close and oldest friend (not oldest in age, but the one I have known since first grade!) and I celebrated our 40th birthdays at a “getaway spa” in another state.  Since the “big ones” get fewer as we get older, we decided to celebrate the decade ones in style, or at least in our own style.  This year my friend and I have planned another “birthday trip” to celebrate turning “50”.

A study from the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology states highlighting time-based landmarks – such as birthdays – may help to motivate positive behavior change and promote success in future-oriented goals.  I started planning my “turning 50 years old” celebration when I was 47 “and a half”.  My plan was to be physically the strongest I have ever been come age 50, even stronger than when I played sports in high school.  I got myself a personal Pilate’s instructor who provided me with a mix of cardio and strength training, and thus I began my journey toward my 50th birthday.  When the day arrived, I had met my goal and made turning 50 years “old” feel like 50 years “young”.

Isn’t that the take away from birthdays – giving thanks and looking forward to celebrating our birth no matter how old we are or where we are in our life journey? Be grateful today for the chance to think about or plan another year. When your next birthday comes around, take advantage of the opportunity to hit the reset button and/or celebrate another year well lived.


American Cancer Society (2008). Official Sponsor of Birthdays. http://relay.acsevents.org/site/PageServer?pagename=RFL_CA_Home_Birthdays

Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School. Giving Thanks Can Make You Happier. https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/giving-thanks-can-make-you-happier

Peetz, J. & Wilson, A. E. (2013). The post-birthday world: Consequences of temporal landmarks for temporal self-appraisal and motivation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 104(2), 249-266. http://psycnet.apa.org/record/2012-27895-001

Written by: Candace J. Heer, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Morrow County, heer.7@osu.edu.

Reviewed by: Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County, lobb.3@osu.edu.



Read Full Post »

Do you wonder why some people succeed or make it – either in the workplace or with sports – and others just don’t? Grit may be the answer. Grit is courage, resolve, or strength of character.

Gritty people:Words - Never Give UP

  • Finish what they start.
  • Put forth twice as much effort.
  • Are optimistic.
  • Identify and fix their mistakes.
  • Set a goal and follow through with it.
  • Practice, practice, practice!!

Psychologist Angela Duckworth who does research on “Grit” or the blend of passion and persistence has written a number of books and articles on the subject. She says you can predict success by building “Grit”. To have grit you need to stick with goals for years and live life like a marathon, not a sprint!

As parents, teachers or mentors there are a few things to help others learn about and build their “Grit”:

  • Encourage reading books where the characters had to overcome a challenge.
  • Talk about times you personally had to work hard to achieve something. Share the times you didn’t end up succeeding, but learned a valuable lesson in the process.
  • Promote moving on from failures and not focusing on excuses.

Research on gritty individual’s shows that they are more successful – they graduate from school at a higher rate and hold onto their relationships. But a negative the researchers on grit found is that sometimes people stick with goals, ideas, or relationships that should be abandoned. It is hard for them to know when to move on or cut their losses. Sometimes they hold on to these goals so long they damage relationships or even lose money.

So what should we do – work towards “Grit” or “know when to fold”? By learning to reward yourself for the pleasure of the experience of achieving the goal you are working towards, not just the final result we can make our perseverance a good thing. Break our long-term goals down into a number of steps that can be check off along the way – and then feeling success in achieving those short-term goals.

If you want to learn more about “Grit”:Woman climbing mountain

  • Watch Angela’s TED Talk on grit at http://go.osu.edu/grit.
  • Read or listen to one of the many books on grit that are available for purchase or from your library for free.
  • Search “Grit” in the Daily Good – an online portal that shares stories and quotes about goodness.
  • Check out the Bowling Green State University Counseling Center “Grit”
  • Or if you like sports I find that many of the stories on The Players’ Tribune (an online platform giving stories from athletes to us the fans) display the grit it takes for them to succeed.

I’m sure many of us have stories of the “Grit” it took us to succeed in something. I would love to hear your story or find out about the places you get your inspiration from – comment on this article to let us know what keeps you going and inspires you.

Writer: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Ross County.

Reviewers: Kathy Goins, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Clark County.

Michelle Treber, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County.


Read Full Post »


If you want to learn about healthy eating, you can find mountains of information on the web, smart phone apps, at the book store, etc. The same goes for any health behavior such as physical activity, smoking cessation, or stress management. There’s a lot of good research-based information and advice and lots of bad as well. Organizations such as CDC, Land-grant universities, non-profits, have unbiased research-based information and resources.

Most of us probably know that we should be eating more fruits and vegetables, less junk food, exercising more and sleeping longer so why is it hard  to change our habits? What behavioral scientists tell us is that knowledge isn’t predictive of what we do or don’t do. Knowledge is important but there are many other factors that influence our behaviors. Personal factors such as our self-confidence or self-efficacy to undertake a behavior is critical as are the expectations or beliefs about behavior.  For example, I’m trying to eat less processed meats because they are associated with certain cancers. In addition to having this knowledge, I’m also pretty confident that I can identify processed meats and can make healthy substitutes. So why am I still eating gobs of lunchmeat, peperoni on pizza, beef jerky, hot dogs, and brats, and not to mention fast food?

In addition to personal factors, our behaviors are also influenced by our social networks, situations, environments including workplaces and communities, and ultimately policies. Regarding processed meat, it’s everywhere including stores, restaurants, and at parties. Furthermore, it’s really easy to prepare since I don’t have to cook it, or at least for very long and in many cases it’s just served to me at restaurants. So in other words, even though I have the knowledge, beliefs, and self-confidence, the cards are still stacked against me because of the situations or environments where my behavior takes place.  I should have the will power to overcome these challenges or perhaps not. Perhaps the “horse” driving my “cart” is not a very strong one. The “horse” refers to the reward expectation of the behavior. Rational humans do things and do things repeatedly because they expect to be rewarded in some way. Unfortunately, biology rewards behaviors that are detrimental over time to our well-being. Sugary fatty foods taste good, as do salty processed meats. In addition to taste, convenient behaviors are rewarding because we spend less energy and experience less discomfort.  It’s easy (rewarding) to succumb to the forces of gravity and be a couch potato, or to eat out. In order to overcome these forces, we really need to think about what we value. The reward of “doing” must be much more compelling than the reward of “not doing,” especially in context of situations and environments in which we find ourselves. Long range reward expectations regarding health behaviors are important, because they often catalyze behavior change in the first place and keep us going over time. Most people take about 6 months to form a habit and move back and forth through through “stages of change.” However, immediate reward expectations get us through tempting day to day situations. I saw my mom fight colon cancer and how terrible the surgery and treatment were. As compelling as the long range reward to avoid that, is it enough for me to buy something besides beef jerky at the convenience store when I have a salt craving? Probably not, but it will cross my mind. However, the expectation of a short-term reward that nuts will taste just as good might be what tips the scale and gets me out of the convenience store without the beef jerky in hand!

When we set out to change a behavior, we really need to take time and think about these rewards. Short and long-term reward expectations can be things that aren’t even health related but important to us in some way. Short-term reward expectations for healthy eating might include having energy, feeling satisfied with a healthier substitute, not feeling bloated, feeling strong, and alert. Long term rewards could include seeing a grandchild graduate from college, being able to go on vacations, go on long hikes, being a role model, etc. Furthermore, you might want to think even deeper or what is the “reward” behind the reward. Why would long hikes be important for example? Hikes could be spiritually rewarding  to be connected with nature.

When changing a behavior we should set S.M.A.R.T. goals– realistic, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound. These should be written down. We should also write down short and long-term rewards and why they are important. They can be anything that is valued- either material (ex. a movie at the end the week if the reward is achieved) or understood (I will feel more energetic). Reflect often about rewards, and ask “what’s really driving my behaviors.” We may need to change rewards as we achieve goals or as our values change depending on our stage of life. We must really take time and think about “the horse”, because the horse is going to pull the cart through the difficult situations!



Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017). Accessed at https://www.cdc.gov/

Bandura, A. (1989). Human agency in social cognitive theory. American psychologist, 44(9), 1175

Ohioline Factsheet HYG5587. Processed Meats, Red Meats and Colorectal Cancer Risk. Accessed at http://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/hyg-5587

A Healthier Michigan. (2017). How to set SMART Goals for Health. Accessed at https://www.ahealthiermichigan.org/2011/01/12/how-to-get-smart-about-goal-setting/

Prochaska, J. O., & DiClemente, C. C. (1982). Transtheoretical therapy: Toward a more integrative model of change. Psychotherapy: theory, research & practice, 19(3), 276.


Author: Dan Remley, Field Specialist, Food, Nutrition, and Wellness, O.S.U. Extension

Reviewer: Shannon Carter, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, O.S.U. Extension, Fairfield County

Read Full Post »


It is hard to believe that we are entering the second half of 2016. Where did the time go? Were you like most of us who set a New Year’s goal or resolution?

How are you doing with that goal? Did you achieve it and move forward with your new healthy lifestyle behaviors? Did you get sidelined by events in your life?

If this new habit is part of your routine, great! If not, is it still relevant? Do you need to revise your goal? Recently I encouraged program participants to set a SMART Goal. What is a SMART goal?

One of the best things you can do to start on your road to health is to set goals using the SMART method.  Let’s start by setting a SMART Wellness Goal. Make sure your goal contains all of these components:

S                  Specific – Walk 30 minutes

M               Measurable – 6 days each week

A                Attainable and Action-Oriented – I will walk (I have no limitations)

R                 Realistic – I already walk 15 minutes 6 days of the week

T                Time Specific – By August 15, 2016

SMART Goal: By August 15, 2016, I will walk for 30 minutes at least 6 days each week.

Another Example of a SMART Goal: By August 15, 2016, I will stretch for 10 minutes at least 5 days a week.

Take a few minutes to write down Your SMART Goal: __________________________________________________________


Goal cropped 2

A great website tool to help you set nutrition and physical activity goals is SuperTracker which is available from the United States Department of Agriculture. Visit their website to get started with five simple goals. You will determine your goals and periodically receive encouragement thru your email.

Why should you consider your goals during vacation time? For many of us, vacation offers extra time to reflect on our lives and evaluate our progress. I consider my July vacation as a mid-point check-up. Are there things that I want to change to improve my health? Are there activities/projects that I want to accomplish before the year end? If so, taking a few minutes to pause and identify action steps & setting a SMART goal will help me achieve my goals.

Want a little more motivation? Check out Move it Monday for their Tip of the Week and suggestions for being more active.

Remember that even if you were derailed on your New Year’s Resolutions, it isn’t too late to start again! Write that goal and get started this vacation season!

Written by: Michelle Treber, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County, treber.1@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Susan Zies, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Wood County, zies.1@osu.edu

Read Full Post »

We are all part of a dizzying pace that takes a high toll on our energy and our time.  Every day, we find places to go, things to do, and more tasks tYoung woman on sofa.o discover and/or uncover at work.  With increased home and work schedules, we need to set aside time for reflection.

Reflection or thinking about our experiences in life is the key to learning.  Reflection allows us to analyze our experiences, make changes based on our mistakes, keep doing what is successful, and build upon or modify past knowledge based on new knowledge.


“In solitude we give passionate attention to our lives, to our memories, to the details around us”                                                      – Virginia Woolf

Realize that you need to relax.  Many people just try to work through their stress by ignoring it and hoping the stressors pass quickly, even while stressors build up. Because of this, it’s not uncommon to be caught off-guard by stress when you reach the point of feeling overwhelmed, or to be stressed to the point that the stress is taking a toll upon your physical being.  It’s important to know when you need to relax.  Physically relaxing your body can lead to stress relief because it interrupts and reverses your stress response.


 “Take Rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop.”       – Ovid

Resolve or resolution is a commitment an individual makes to one or more personal goals, projects, or the reforming of a habit; a new beginning.


“There is no scarcity of opportunity to make a living at what you love; there’s only scarcity of resolve to make it happen”. 

– Wayne Dyer

As individuals, personal growth and renewal come from examining who we are and what we value.  Renewal is a process of shedding what is no longer useful, devoting time to self-care through rest and cleansing, and ultimately emerging new and ready for more growth.


“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”     – Ralph Waldo Emerson

 As you take time to reflect, relax, resolve, and renew, here’s a short (only 128 pages) but powerful read to get you started.  “How Full is Your Bucket?” written by Tom Rath is based on the theory that life is a bucket and how happy you are determines how full your bucket is.  Happiness in life often lies in simplicity, and this clear, concise book of quotes and stories is the perfect winter-afternoon read as you embark upon the New Year.

Written by:  Cynthia R. Shuster, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Perry County, Buckeye Hills EERA

Reviewed by:  Marilyn Rabe, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Franklin County, Heart of Ohio EERA

Reviewed by:  Jennifer Lindimore, Ohio State University Extension Office Associate, Morgan County, Buckeye Hills EERA

Read Full Post »



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.

Set A SMART Goal

Set A SMART Goal

How do I set a SMART goal?  Make sure your goal contains all of these components:

S              Specific

M            Measurable

A             Action-Oriented and Attainable

R             Realistic

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:

Balancing Calories

  • 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, treber.1@osu.edu

Reviewer:  Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ross County, Ohio Valley EERA, barlage.7@osu.edu

Read Full Post »

Were you part of the 40 – 45% of Americans who made a New Year’s Resolution? If so, you probably picked one of the common resolutions – lose weight, quit smoking, save money, or get fit. The experts say that about half of those who make a resolution are successful for at least six months. The interesting thing that psychologist have found is that if we set a resolution, we are 10 times more likely to make a change than those who are trying to make a change, but haven’t declared it as a resolution. We are only a couple days into the New Year and you still have plenty of time to work on your resolution or goal so that you can find success with it. Here are a few tips to increase your chances of having a successful resolution:

  • If your resolution was to lose weight, don’t start with a goal that is overly high. Maybe you would like to lose 40 pounds, but the best way to have success is to break down your goal to smaller pieces. Start with the things that will help with that weight loss – “I’m going to work out for 30 minutes, 3 times per week” or “I’m not going to order French fries” or “I’m going to give up sweet tea”. Be sure you write down a measurable goal and keep a log or chart.
  • If your resolution was to save money or reduce your debt and you haven’t been saving at all, start small. Try a couple months of having $10 or $20 taken out of your check and directly deposited in a savings account – and don’t cut into it unless there is an emergency. (By emergency I mean, your car broke down, not the shoe store had a sale.) Then when you get a raise increase the amount or if you have an overtime check – add to it.
  • If your resolution related to getting a better job, or maybe just getting back into the workforce – put deadlines on your steps. By January 15 I will use the resources available at my local library or on the Chamber job website – for example. If you need further education to get a better job, give yourself a deadline to call the local community college or adult education program to find out what is available.
  • If you resolution was to take a special trip – start by doing research about how much it will cost, get books from the library to find out what you want to do, go online and order any free maps or brochures, and start saving a little out of each paycheck for your trip. If you get a decent income tax refund this year – save as much as you can – or use it to order your plane tickets.

If you didn’t decide on a resolution on New Year’s Day – it isn’t too late – write one down today. Focus on goals that are realistic, with measurable results that you can chip away at, and hold yourself accountable. But don’t be too quick to give up, if you have had a hard week and things didn’t go as well as you would have liked, set a small goal that you know you can succeed with for the next couple days. You may also need to change who you spend time with to succeed, we do imitate those we are around. If you want to quit smoking, but you take your breaks with a friend who smokes, it will probably be hard for you. You might need to take breaks with a co-worker who doesn’t smoke for a while. Most importantly, don’t keep your resolution to yourself; share it with someone you trust that can encourage you when you get off track.

Written by: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension.


American Psychological Association, Monitor on Psychology, S. Dingfelder, Vol 35, No 1, http://www.apa.org/monitor/jan04/solutions.aspx.

University of Maryland Medical Center, Where to Begin: Expert Advice on Maintaining Resolutions, http://www.umm.edu/features/prepare.htm.

Read Full Post »