A: Do you 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 your doctor just informed you that you’re pre-diabetic. You know you’ve not been conscious about your food intake lately, and you don’t feel motivated or energized enough to move your body after a busy day. But how do you get from knowing you should change to actually changing? To begin, how about making at least one goal to work on? Let’s take a look at how to get started:
S: Your goal should be SPECIFIC.
What exactly is it that you want to work on? Perhaps you dislike vegetables and very rarely eat them. Your goal might be related to this one food item.
M: Your goal should be MEASURABLE.
How many times per day will you eat a serving of vegetables? Pick a number to start with that’s not too far away from your current intake. For example, if you never eat vegetables, try committing to eating two servings per week.
A: 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’ll eat vegetables with every meal, because that’s likely not realistic and if you don’t meet that goal, you might end up feeling discouraged and stop trying to change your habits.
R: Your goal should be RELEVANT.
Is your goal related to the problem you’re trying to solve? If, like the example, your problem is pre-diabetes, then any goals related to your food intake are relevant.
T: Your goal should be TIME-BOUND.
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 success.
Using our example and what we’ve learned about SMART goals, your goal might be to eat at least one serving of vegetables at dinner two times a week for the next month. The following month you may decide to increase your goal to three or four servings per week, depending on your progress.
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!
Get more helpful information on healthy senior living at Gurwin’s Golden Years blog: www.gurwin.org/blogs
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