SMART Health Goals: How to Achieve Success
Goal setting is a great tool for anyone looking to improve their health. Of course goals are vital for evaluating progress, but they have other benefits too.
According to Harvard University, setting goals not only increases achievement, but improves motivation too. Research also shows that having a goal can help increase persistence, and make you less susceptible to the undermining effects of disappointment and frustration.
So how should you go about setting health goals? Using the SMART approach can help. SMART stands for:
- Specific – is there a precise focus of the goal? Saying ‘I want to be healthier’ is quite vague, whereas ‘I want to exercise daily’ is much more specific.
- Measurable – can I track or measure whether I’ve achieved it? Saying ‘I want to lose 5lbs’ is much more measurable than just ‘I want to lose weight’.
- Achievable – is it realistically attainable? There’s nothing wrong with dreaming big, but if your goal isn’t realistic then you’re setting yourself up for failure.
- Relevant – how does this contribute to any bigger goals? If you’re training for a marathon, then your goal should relate to running, rather than weight loss for example.
- Time-based – When will you achieve it by? It needs to include some kind of deadline.
So having a SMART goal means that it’s specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-based. Some examples of health-related SMART goals are:
- Reduce blood pressure to 120/80 before 31st
- Lose 5lbs within the next two months.
- Run 1 mile in under 7 minutes before my next birthday.
- Walk for 30 minutes every lunchtime, for the next three weeks.
- Eat 2 pieces of fruit every day, for the next 10 days.
How will you know whether your goals are helping to improve your overall health? A health monitor like MOCAeart can help you track your progress as you work towards your heart health goals. Measuring progress is a great motivator and can help you see results. Use MOCAheart as a way to keep up with all of your heart vitals on a daily basis. In the smartphone app, you can track heart rate, blood oxygen, and blood velocity trends over time and share progress directly with your loved ones.
Setting goals is a personal thing, and not really something you can do for others. So if you’re keen to help a friend or family member get healthier, then it’s best not to start with goal setting. Instead, focus on modeling healthy behavior yourself. Asking someone to change their health habits can be met with resistance or annoyance, so a more constructive approach is to walk the talk first. Don’t make them feel guilty for ordering fries, but instead let them see you opting for veggies. Once they see how much healthier you look and feel, they’ll be more inclined to follow your lead. People are most convinced by conclusions they arrive at themselves, so just model healthy behavior and be patient. Once they’re ready to begin their own journey, you can let them know about SMART goal setting principles.
Have you tried using SMART health goals? Let us know in the comments section below!