You’re ready to embark on your wellness journey. You start with a search in Google - “How to start a healthy lifestyle” - and discover you need to set goals that will lead you to the desired outcome. But how do you go about setting health and wellness goals? Perhaps you’ve set goals in the past but drifted off-track. Maybe you’ve even accomplished some goals, only to undo all the hard work just a few months later by slipping back into your old routines or habits. Regardless of what happened, setting new goals can sometimes be challenging, especially if you aren’t sure where to start.
Your wellness goals may be centered around nutrition and fitness, or maybe you would like to focus more on your mental health and the mind-body connection. Kudos to the overachievers who are tackling both! For many of us, our goals tend to lack structure and can sometimes be a bit lofty. We go from A to Z rather than account for the progress that needs to be made along the way.
This is usually the reason behind so many failed goals. It isn’t because you aren’t capable of reaching your goals; they simply aren’t properly structured or planned. Ultimately, you aren’t setting yourself up for success. Making a plan to improve your overall wellness does not have to be complicated. No matter what your goals may be, with the right system, you can achieve anything!
Why Is Goal Setting Important?
Setting goals is essential for many reasons. That’s why you’ll find that the most successful and highly productive people make sure to set goals throughout the year. Setting goals gives you short-term motivation while empowering you to keep moving forward with a long-term vision.
By setting concise and clearly defined goals, you will see the importance of your progress, rather than viewing the time between setting and achieving your goal as a relentless grind.
Setting and accomplishing goals is also incredibly important to your self-esteem and self-confidence. When you create new challenges for yourself and measure how you can successfully overcome those challenges, you are more likely to believe that you can take on the things you never thought were possible before.
Reminder: Be Realistic and Don’t Be Too Hard on Yourself
This is not to say that there is a ceiling for what you can achieve or that you shouldn’t aim for the ultimate goal that you have in mind - we believe you are limitless! But, it is important to assess where you want to go compared to where you are now. For example, setting a goal to run an 8-minute mile in a month, when it currently takes you 15 minutes, may be somewhat unrealistic and will likely result in you feeling discouraged. Discouragement is like poison to new goals; it leads to a lack of motivation and a negative attitude.
Instead, try taking a look at where you are, where you want to be, and the benchmarks that you can create along the journey.
Returning to the goal of running an 8-minute mile example, a more productive goal could be to shave 20 seconds off your mile each week. While this is still challenging, it is more realistic and gives you a measurable benchmark to reach each week until you meet your final goal.
Goals Are Not Just For New Years
While it is always great to hit the ground running at the stroke of midnight on a new year, you are allowed to make goals whenever it works best for you or when you think of something new you would like to achieve. In fact, we believe it’s important to set goals throughout the year. It helps to check in periodically to ensure that you meet your current goals and find ways to make new ones. Don’t save all of your goals for the new year; be sure to find ways to make progress from January to December.
The SMART Strategy
Creating a plan for achieving your goals isn’t always as straightforward or as easy as it may seem, but using the SMART strategy empowers you to create a plan that you need to achieve your goals. While the SMART approach was initially designed to achieve business goals, it has been used in nearly every discipline since the 1980s to help people achieve any meaningful goal, whether professional or personal.
SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relative, and Time-Sensitive. We’re going to breakdown how to set goals using the SMART criteria, which will set you up for success.
Make specific goals. Vague goals lead you vague results. Or no results.
Making sure your goals are specific is a critical component of your success.
Rather than stating that you want to lose weight during the next year, try creating a specific picture of what that weight loss looks like. Instead of making a broad declaration of weight loss, for example, set a goal to lose three pounds each month until you reach your overall goal. By mapping out how you will achieve your weight loss, you are much more likely to stick to your plan and work hard to achieve those benchmarks each month.
You have to be able to measure your goals.
This means that the goal you set has to have a measurable component to it – simply setting a goal to get in shape will not work. It doesn’t work because there is no way to measure how you are getting in shape or when you have achieved your ultimate goal. Instead, set a goal to exercise for 30 minutes a day, five days a week. This goal is much easier to track and creates a sense of real accountability.
Establishing an easy goal doesn’t create any progress, and setting one too high is setting yourself up for failure.
Setting attainable or realistic goals is one of the key points to a SMART goal.
The first thing you need to do is stop comparing yourself to others. What is easy for them is not necessarily easy for you, and there is nothing wrong with that. If your goal is to become more mindful, don’t tell yourself that you will begin meditating for one hour each day. That’s too shocking to your routine, and you are less likely to stick with it. Instead, create a goal to meditate for 10 minutes each day. You will have the chance to work on your mindfulness in an attainable way.
Make sure your goals are personal to you and relevant to your lifestyle. This ensures that you are more driven and motivated to attain your goals.
Don’t set a goal because of something that is trendy or because you see everyone else doing it. Your goal should add value to your life. If you feel like your work-life balance is skewed, and you aren’t able to spend enough time with your children or your family, set a goal that improves that pain point. For example, you could set a goal to go on a weekly hike with your kids. This way, you get in some exercise, while spending quality time with your family.
Last but not least, make sure your goal has an end date!
Setting a deadline allows you to assess and analyze your progress and stay on track.
If you set goals without deadlines, you are free falling and hoping you land on something soft.
If your goal is to get more sleep, then make sure that you have a deadline for achieving your goal. For example, if you currently get five hours of sleep each night, and you want to get eight, set a goal to get eight hours of sleep every night within three months.
Setting goals is not some elusive process. There is no secret or predisposition that makes some people achieve their goals while others fall short. Anyone can achieve the dreams and goals that they have for themselves if they plan accordingly. Setting a strategy to achieve your goals is what sets you up for success.