The SMART Way to Approach Your Health Goals

Set goals intelligently with the SMART approach. Learn how small steps forward can lead to long-term success.

What’s the best way to accomplish your goal? — an important question that isn’t asked enough. We all have things we’d like to change or new milestones we’d like to reach, but rarely do we have the plan in place to make them happen. You can’t just think up a goal and go do it. You need to set the groundwork first.

The Healthy Monday SMART approach to goal setting is designed to help establish goals that are attainable and quantifiable, and therefore more achievable.

SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based. Think of the SMART method as a road map, leading you from milestone to milestone. By breaking down goals into specific, measurable, and attainable steps, you are more likely to stay focused and committed.

And the best aspect of the SMART planning is that it can be applied to any type of goal, whether it’s quitting smoking, cleaning up your diet, better self-care, getting more exercise, or starting that memoir you always said you’d write…

It might seem like a lot of steps, but using the SMART approach is actually pretty simple:

  1. Pick a specific goal: run more, learn a foreign language, improve your cooking.
  2. Make the specific goal measurable so that you can recognize when it has been completed: run a 5K, understand a foreign film without subtitles, cook a new dish twice a week.
  3. Determine if the goal is achievable given your personal time constraints. If not, adjust to fit your schedule.
  4. Really consider if the goal is There’s no point is setting an impossible goal; it will only discourage you from moving forward.
  5. Create a timeframe so that your goal has a clear start and stop date. These boundaries can be applied to day-to-day accomplishments (running 15 minutes a day) or to longer goal setting (running a 5K next month).

By applying the SMART approach, you’ll constantly be making significant steps towards reaching your overall goal. The constant improvement is satisfying, and it will motivate you to keep going even through difficult days or periodic frustrations. Set yourself up for success by taking the SMART approach to goal setting. If you ever fall of track, you can always recommit to your goal or refresh your intentions next Monday.