New Year, Stronger You: A Guide to Setting SMART Goals 

by Melissa Chichester

As the new year approaches, many of us seek to embark on journeys of self-improvement and prioritize health and wellness.

Setting goals is a crucial step in this process, but it’s equally important to have a strategy to set those goals.

One effective method for goal setting is using the SMART criteria:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-Bound

Applying the SMART framework to your health and wellness goals can help you accomplish what you set out to do with clear steps you can cross out on your list.

Specific: Define clear outcomes

When it comes to health and wellness, vague goals can be counterproductive. Instead of setting a broad goal like “get fit” or “eat better,” make the outcomes specific. 

For example, aim to “eat 5 servings of vegetables daily” or “complete a 5K run by March.” This clarity allows you to focus your efforts and measure progress effectively. Maybe your goal is as simple as taking a multivitamin daily. 

Measurable: Track your progress

To stay motivated, it’s important to measure your progress. Select parameters that can be tracked over time. If your goal is to improve your fitness, consider metrics like the number of steps taken daily, the distance covered during a run, or the amount of weight lifted during strength training.

And one more tip: Make it fun! Get a planner and be artistic, try out a new digital app – whatever makes you excited about tracking your progress. 

Rewarding yourself when you hit these milestones will also help you keep going. For example, reward yourself with a new book, a trip to the library, or an outing with a friend – something that makes you happy and likely to stick with your plan.

>>11 Ways to Keep Momentum in the New Year

Achievable: Set realistic targets

While it’s great to dream big, setting unattainable goals can lead to frustration and disappointment. Ensure that your objectives are challenging but realistic. Consider your current lifestyle, commitments, and resources when setting goals. That includes your work schedule, your travel schedule, your family life, and any other potential hurdles. 

If your goal is to start running and you’re new to exercise, aiming to run a marathon in a few months might not be realistic. Instead, start with smaller, achievable milestones that can be built upon. The same applies to any other type of goal. 

Relevant: Align your values and priorities

Goals should align with your values and priorities to ensure long-term commitment. Ask yourself why a particular goal is essential to you. If your goal doesn’t resonate with your values, it may be challenging to stay motivated. For instance, if spending quality time with family is a top priority, a goal related to improving your overall well-being and limiting stress might align well.

Time-Bound: Set a deadline

Without a deadline, goals lack urgency and focus. Establishing a timeframe creates a sense of accountability and helps you stay on course. Instead of saying, “I want to eat healthier,” set a deadline like “I will incorporate a vegetable serving into every meal for the next 30 days.”

As you step into the new year, take a thoughtful approach to your health and wellness goals by applying the SMART criteria. By setting specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound goals, you can make 2023 a year of transformative change for your well-being. 

Here’s to a healthier, stronger you!