Goal Setting is Key to making Positive Lifestyle Changes

Whatever your long-term health goals are, it is important to think about and set short term goals. Weekly goals can help keep you on track and eventually help you meet your overall long term goals.  When you spend time thinking about and writing down your goals, you are much more likely to meet them.  It is also helpful to think about why these goals are important to you.  Think about your motivation.  This will help you keep going and get you closer to the outcome you are working towards.

Choose goals that focus on behaviors you can change that will help you reach your desired outcome.  For instance, if your overall goal is to lose a certain amount of weight, ask yourself what behaviors you need to change in order to start losing. Write down those behaviors and start forming weekly goals with them. If you are looking to make permanent lifestyle changes, it’s a good idea to start by working on 1 or 2 of those changes at a time.  Trying to make too many changes at once can be overwhelming and set you up for failure.  Once you’ve mastered your new healthy habit, you can work on your next goal.

Use the SMART acronym to set  goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timeframe). For example, if you want to get more exercise, you might write something like this: Get 10 minutes of exercise each morning for 7 days. Making your goals specific and measurable helps you to assess each week how you are doing and what changes you might make. To increase your success at achieving your goals, you want to start with easy, attainable goals. If you’ve never exercised before, how likely are you to start working out for 1 hour per day? It is probably more realistic to start with 10 minutes and gradually work your way up after you’ve established this habit.

Reinforce these goals by writing down what motivates you.  Think of all the reasons you want to change this behavior. For example, if you are trying to exercise more, you might write: I want to have more energy, I want to sleep better, I want to get stronger; etc.  If you are not sure, look up all the reasons one might make this change.

If you want to increase your success, talk to someone else about your goals.  Buddy up with someone that is looking to make positive changes.  Share your goals each week and problem solve the barriers you encounter.  Form new goals together. Having a support person adds the element of accountability which can be very motivating for many people. This can also be where a dietitian comes in. We can provide help with goal setting, problem solving, support, and accountability through weekly follow ups.   The right support can be key to meeting your long-term health goals.