As humans, we are wired to be goal oriented. Have you ever watched an infant child learn to stand? They will scoot their way to a table or chair, grab on with all their strength, position their legs under their body and pull themselves up. If they fall while in the process, they will try again. . . .. and again. . . .. .and again, until they get it right!
Whether it be a task as simple as learning to stand, or a more complicated task like applying for a job, planning a holiday or finally tackling spring cleaning the garage, goals push us forward and provide a constant reminder of what we want to achieve. Goals give us something to focus on and the energy to carry on, even when motivation is low.
Academia has written much on the subject of goals. By far, though, the most well-known goal-setting technique comes from the world of business management - SMART Goals.
The acronym encourages us to make goals that are: specific, measurable, achievable (or attainable), realistic and time-bound. Below are some useful tips for setting Smart Goals.
Make your goal Specific by describing it in detail. For example, say- “I will walk every week day for 20 minutes after dinner” versus “I will walk more.” Or- “I will be home by 6:00 pm to eat dinner with my family” versus “I will get home earlier from work to be with my family.”
Make your goal Measurable by using metrics such as time or distance. “I will go to the gym and work out for an hour twice a week on Tuesday and Thursday mornings” versus “I will work out at the gym twice a week.” Using terms you can measure not only helps you to prioritize your goals but also keeps you honest with your progress.
Make your goal Attainable by allowing yourself enough time and energy to achieve it. Most of us can recall a time when we took on too much, too soon with too little time. Deciding to crash diet in order to look good in your clothes for a big event in a week may sound like a good idea until ending up with nothing to wear the night before.
Make your goal Realistic by building upon previous success and good habits. If you’ve never run before, it may be unrealistic to set out to run a marathon. However, if you have experience running and the time and ability to train, then a marathon or 10K (depending on your fitness level) may be a realistic goal for you.
Make your goal Time Bound by setting a specific date to measure your progress. LIfe gets busy and it is all too easy to put off today what can be done tomorrow. Setting a date also improves accountability by allowing you to track progress over a given period of time.
Apply what you have learned about goal setting across the Wellness Garage Six Pillars of Health:
Better yet - do a Precision Health Tune Up and create goals based on a personalized health plan.
Dr. Brendan Byrne