Sunday, January 5, 2020

Set some SMART goals for 2020

Are you setting some health goals for 2020?  Every year people have good intentions and make some New Year’s resolutions.  And then people keep those resolutions for about a month and then backslide.  Actually, many people don’t even last a month.  Statistics show about 75% of us last only about a week, while  less than half of us last 6 months  .  Setting health goals for the new year is a good idea.  But how can you set some health goals you are more likely to keep?  In the nutrition class I teach, we talk about setting SMART goals.  SMART is an acronym for setting goals that is often attributed to Peter Drucker in Management by Objectives.  Although used in business, one can also set SMART goals for their health.  What are SMART goals and how can you set some health goals for 2020 that you may actually keep longer than a week or a few months?

When setting health goals for 2020, focus on goals that are very clear and attainable.  Each goal should be:

Specific:  The goal should be very specific and state what you will be doing.

NOT:  I will exercise more.
YES:  I will walk at lunch for 20 minutes every work day.  

Measurable:  Set a goal that you can easily measure.

NOT:  I will eat healthier in 2020.   So often my students say things like this, “I will eat healthier”, yet have no specifics as to what this means.  Eating healthier doesn’t mean eating gluten free or giving up carbs. 
YES:  I will eat a piece of fruit at lunch every day.  So simple, so easy to measure and so achievable.   By eating a piece of whole fruit every day, you’ve added vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber to your day.  Some other very measurable eating goals to try:
o   I will bring a yogurt with me every day to work and eat at lunch or as a snack.
o   I will drink a glass of 100% juice every day at breakfast.
o   I will eat a banana every day at breakfast.
o   I won’t order sweetened tea or soda but unsweetened tea or just drink plain water.
Bring some fresh fruit for lunch every day.
Achievable:  One can set health goals that are challenging but you also want to set a goal that you can reach.  

NOT:  I will go to the gym every day.  How realistic is this?  You may start out the year hitting the gym but then stop going after a week or so.  I have known people who set this type of goal, then join a gym but never actually go to the gym.  Or, they join a gym, pay for 5 personal training sessions and then after the 5 training sessions they stop going for the rest of the year.
YES:  I will exercise each weekend for an hour.  This could be riding a bike, going for a hike, going swimming at the gym, taking an aerobics class.  Or even doing chores, like raking leaves, shoveling snow, washing the car.  One doesn’t have to go to the gym to get “exercise”.  By trying to get in an hour over a weekend, one can fit this hour in anytime over the weekend.  Once I wanted to get more aerobic exercise, but had little time available during the week.  So, I joined an aerobics class that met from 9-10 AM every Saturday morning.  

Relevant:  Is your goal one that really “matters to you”?  

                NOT:  I will run 5 miles a day when you hate running and have never gone running before.
                YES:  I will go hiking once a month during 2020.  You enjoy hiking but don’t always take the time to do so.  Find some new places to hike.  Or, set a goal of, “I will take the kids to the park to play and hike each month during 2020”.  An achievable goal that will give your kids some play time and you can enjoy a family walk once a month.  Make going to the park even more fun by packing a picnic lunch to enjoy.  Or, in colder climates, take along a thermos of hot chocolate to enjoy. 

Time-based:  Set a realistic time frame for meeting your goal.  Can you accomplish your goal every day, every month or by six months into the year?  
                NOT:  I will be healthier by the end of 2020.
                YES:  I will keep track of how often I eat a piece of fruit at lunch every day.  I will track each month that I go on a hike (or take my kids to the park to play and hike.) 
What is the advantage of setting SMART goals?  Using the SMART tool helps you make health goals that are achievable and measurable.  By setting SMART goals, maybe in 2020, you can actually accomplish your goals and not abandon them after a few weeks.  

Who can’t reach a goal of eating a piece of fruit at lunch every day?  Choose changes that you can easily succeed at, yet goals that will lead to a healthier you.  For example, last year my sister was told by a health professional to add a vegetable to her lunch every day.  My sister packed her lunch every day and included a vegetable.  This was an easy thing to do, but oh so good for her health.  What simple, easy health goals will you set for yourself in 2020?  

Wishing you a healthier 2020. 
Drink some 100% orange juice for breakfast every day.

Sources:   week, months  , Management by Objectives, goal  Image Sources:  Apples, Orange Juice, SMART

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