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Monday Motivation Post: What are SMART Goals?


For this week's Monday Motivation Post I felt like writing about what I practice daily with clients and that is setting SMART goals. What are SMART goals? How do you set them? I'm here to tell you!

SMART actually stands for

Specific

Measurable

Attainable

Realistic

Time-Oriented

I have seen A and T stand for other words but the meanings are still the same. I will define below! If you heard SMART stood for something else, share in the comments!

What makes a goal Specific?

Look at this goal:

My goal is to be healthier.

That's a great goal! But It's not a SMART goal because it's not specific, we cannot measure it, we don't know how attainable it is, we don't know how realistic it is because we haven't specified "healthier".

So step 1- define healthier. What does that mean to you? Does seeing your therapist once a month make you feel healthier? Does meal prepping 5 lunches for the week make you feel healthier? Does drinking 32 ounces of water each day make you feel healthier?

Notice I asked for a defined behavior AND a number. The defined behavior makes the goal specific and the number makes the goal measureable.

Now look at this goal:

My goal is to meal prep 5 lunches for the week.

This is very specific, we have defined what makes this person feel healthier and made it measurable. You can count how many meal you meal prep.

Can we get more specific? Yes, but for all intents and purposes we will just go this far. Another important point to make is that we made it specific enough where it's now individualized to the person.

Another person may feel healthier by exercising 30 minutes each weekday. In the context of this original goal, there are unlimited ways a person to feel healthy, so finding what specifically makes you feel healthier is different from someone else.

Let's move on because now we have to make sure it's attainable, realistic, and time-oriented.

First ask, is meal prepping 5 lunches attainable? Like, can you do this? There may be barriers to work through, maybe time spent looking for recipes, or skills needing to be developed. We need to explore! It's important dig and to assess is this truly attainable?

Let's assume the person with this goal

1. has access to a grocery store to buy food

2. has access to a kitchen to make the food

3. has enough time to make the food

4. and has a a way to safely store & transport the food to work.

Okay, we've figured out this goal: Meal prep 5 lunches a week is attainable.

Now let's figure out, is this realistic? Again this is very individual to the person. Here' lets look at the difference between these 2 goals:

Meal prep 5 lunches for the week

vs

Meal prep 25 meals for the week.

Someone just starting out with meal prep may feel overwhelmed meal prepping 25 meals for the week, but 5 lunches is a much more realistic to start the habit. A goal that is realistic is usually also attainable, assuming the barriers are removed.

So what does "time-oriented" mean?

Time-oriented means we applied a time frame to the goal. For example we can say to do this goal once a week, 4 times a month etc. It's another way to solidify the goal to something more specific.

So let's look at the goal within a time frame.

Meal prep 5 lunches each week for the next 4 weeks.

Alright! Now we have a SMART goal!

The goal "To be healthier" has been defined and now it's an actionable task. The next step would be to set up a plan and also a date and time to follow up!

During an initial session with a client I always strive to narrow down the original, big goal, to something much more specific and manageable and then I set a follow-up.

During the follow up we assess how well did it go? And we define "well" ;-) . We trouble shoot as needed and after a few weeks of maintaining the certain goal we modify or add.

In my professional experience, it's most helpful when someone focuses on 1 SMART goal at a time. I would also rather someone set 1 goal to focus on and then have them just come up with goals on their own. For example sometimes I will follow-up on a SMART goal and the person also tells me they started walking at work for 30 minutes a few times a week. Whoa! Bonus!! I love that! But if we had set that as a goal and we also set the meal prep goal...that may have been too much at once. Everyone is different! That's the key to individual nutrition counseling is that eveyrone has a different health history, a different goal, a different way to achieve health and that's what I'm happy to help people do.

If goal setting or individualized nutrition counseling is something that's been on your mind, let's talk about it in a free 20-minute consult!

Not interested in one on one but would like to attend a Goal Setting Workshop? Well you are in luck! Sometime in November, I'll be having a mini Goal Setting Workshop during a special networking night at Athleta in Cherry Creek Mall! Stay tuned for the details! An Eventbrite and a Facebook page are coming soon!

Got a fun way to set or keep track of your SMART goals? Share in the comments!

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