Have a less than healthy habit you’ve been meaning to change? The good news is that it’s never too late to work on it! It might seem overwhelming to think about completely changing a behavior you’ve spent a lifetime developing, but when broken down using the SMART goal system, soon you’ll be a pro at creating those healthy habits you know will help improve your health and quality of life.
For example, let’s say you frequently eat a quick lunch at your desk at work and then you’re too busy to have a snack when you’re hungry in the afternoon. You know you need to be more conscious about eating during the day, because by dinner time you’re ravenous and always end up eating to the point where you feel sick. But how do you get from knowing you should change, to actually changing? How about making at least one goal to work on. Let’s take a look at how to get started:
Your goal should be specific.
What exactly is it that you want to work on? Your goal in our example could be related to eating more mindfully at lunch, or making sure you eat an afternoon snack.
Your goal should be measurable.
How many times per week will you eat lunch in the break room? How many times per week will you make the time to eat an afternoon snack? Pick a number that’s not too far away from your current intake/behavior.
Your goal should be attainable.
Is your goal something you can actually see yourself doing? If not, revise your goal. You’re much less likely to follow through with your plan if you don’t imagine yourself meeting your goal. It’s not helpful to say you will always eat lunch in the break-room, because sometimes you really just don’t have the time. Or you may not always want an afternoon snack or remember to have one available. By creating a goal where you commit to 100% of something, you can be setting yourself up for disappointment and, ultimately, failure to stick with the change.
Your goal should be relevant.
Is your goal related to the problem you’re trying to slove? If, like the example, your problem is over-eating at night, then the goals related to your intake at lunch and in the afternoon are relevant.
Your goal should be time-based.
Will you achieve your goal within the month? Within 2 months? By having a time-frame in mind, you’ll be able to measure your progress and know when you’ve achieved your goal.
Using our example and what we’ve learned about SMART goals, your goal might be to eat lunch in the break-room or away from your desk for at least 2 days per week within the next month or to give yourself the option of an afternoon snack at least 4 days per week within the next 2 weeks.
Now that you have SMART goals down, think back to that less than healthy habit you’ve been meaning to change and give goal setting a try!