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SMART Goal Setting

Posted Jan 04 2012 2:08pm

Happy New Year Everyone!

I hope you all had a great holiday!  My wife and I are still eagerly awaiting the birth of our child.  Any day now!

In the spirit of the New Year, please enjoy my segment on how to set SMART goals.  Adopting this effective strategy should help to optimize your chances of successfully setting and reaching a goal rather than the business as usual New Years Resolutions, as you will see.  ENJOY!


Every New Years we do it...  Take a look at our lives and decided to change… something! January has the highest number of people starting lifestyle change plans, etc… However, it also has the highest percentage of these individuals who drop out, or quit!  Therefore, we examine how to set goals in a way that maximizes our chances of following through!

SMART Acronym:

1)     Specific – Must answer the six “W” questions: a.      Who – is involved? b.     What – do I want to accomplish? c.     Where – Identify a location. d.     When – Establish a time frame. e.      Which – Identify requirements and constraints. f.       Why – Specific reasons, purpose or benefits of accomplishing the goal. Example: SMART Goal regarding health = Do cardio training for 45 minutes 3 days / wk and resistance training for 45 minutes 3 days/wk at XYZ fitness club VS. Get in shape.
2)     Measurable – Concrete criteria for measuring progress towards the attainment of each goal you set & regularly scheduled progress checks.
3)     Attainable – You begin to figure out ways to achieve your goals.  Develop attitudes, abilities and the skills to reach them.  This “development” occurs only when you see goal achievement as possible for you.  Stair steps/Stage wise – over time what was once inconceivable to you becomes well within your achievement. 4)     Realistic – A goal must represent an objective toward which you are both WILLING and ABLE to work.  TEST of Realistic = DO you BELIEVE that the goal is attainable? 5)     Timely – A goal should be grounded with a time frame.  This increases your sense of urgency and can help you tap more of your resources to achieve the goal. Other tips for Lifestyle Change Goals: 

A) Include adhering to your lifestyle habits as an outcome (i.e. I will consume 8 servings of fruits and vegetables per day; or 5 vegetables and 3 fruits per day; or I will do 3 cardio and 3 resistance training workouts this week (for 30 – 45 min each)). 

B) Research your desired outcomes and be sure to discuss them with a health professional who can help you set a realistic target and timeframe, as well as help you overcome obstacles and use effective, proven strategies.   C) Share your goals with peers who can support you and hold you accountable to your standards.
1) Adapted from: Psycho-education.  2006.  Dr. I. Patelis-Siotis, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario.
2) Wikipedia entry on SMART/ER -

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