2020 isn’t just the beginning of a New Year; it’s the beginning of a new decade! Like many Americans, you might be considering ways to begin the year anew with a fresh start – perhaps some health or lifestyle changes you’d like to accomplish, habits you would like to adjust, or new endeavors you’d like to take on. In any case, fresh starts require a few key components to be successful – intention, motivation, and action – all of which can be shaped by setting goals. Goals provide guidance and stability to whatever it is you aim to accomplish.
Think SMART. Get SMART. Be SMART.
Embarking on a change without a goal is like steering a boat without a rudder. The key to setting goals is to personalize them according to your own circumstances and individual needs, and to establish a clear plan for achieving them. Get yourself in the SMART mindset. These are goals that are:
Specific – A goal without a plan is little more than words on paper. Define a path and be committed in your mission. Use definitive language such as, “I am…” and “I will…” For example, “I will run for 30 minutes three days per week.” Be solid and strategic in your planning.
Measurable – Think about a change you feel most ready to make, or especially motivated to achieve. What exactly do you want to accomplish and over what period of time? How will you know when you are successful? Develop goals that you can quantify and don’t waste your time on the changes you don’t have confidence achieving (yet). Confidence will grow when you can measure your success.
Adaptable – Behavior change is usually met with some inconsistency. You might go back to your old habit(s) sometimes. This is normal! Keep your eye on the prize and realize the road to get there may take some twists and turns. Be prepared to adapt, adjust, and take them on.
Realistic – Too often we set forth on our mission without a clear purpose, or our ambitions are so unrealistic that we drop them without giving ourselves a real chance. Challenge yourself AND be realistic. Establish two or three goals along with two or three action steps each for achieving them, and go for it.
Tangible – Keeping track of progress affirms your efforts and keeps the spark alive. It helps you see your progress even when the goal hasn’t yet been accomplished. This will help you stay on track, motivated and directed. Use a calendar, a notebook, a website or an app to see the tangible changes you are making. Be patient, stay positive, and sustain your efforts.
It’s your turn. If you haven’t done so already, now is a good time for setting your 2020 goals. Start with, “I can”, “I will”, “I am”…and then follow-up with “this is how I will do it.” Review each goal to ensure the SMART(est) approach, make them visible so they are top of mind each and everyday, and have fun achieving them.
Choose to make healthy eating a priority this year with Fiber d’Lish. A wholesome, delicious bar that is a great way to get 12g of Fiber easily.
Wishing you a year (and a decade) of SMART and successful endeavors!
Anne Marie Kuchera, MS, MA, RD, LPC is a registered dietitian, and both a licensed nutritionist and licensed professional counselor. She manages community-based obesity prevention and preventive health and wellness initiatives through Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC.