July 22nd, 2024

Viva Vitality: New year, new goals

By Lisa Doyle on January 19, 2024.

As we step into 2024, it is the perfect moment to envision and set meaningful New Year’s resolutions.

Have you ever found yourself setting ambitious goals only to see them lose momentum or fade into oblivion? If you are nodding in agreement, rest assured, you are not alone in that experience. When goals are simply unrealistic and unattainable it is easy to get sidetracked, discouraged and find yourself back to square one. Instead, consider adopting the SMART goal approach to implement realistic goals and work toward a more achievable and sustainable path to positive change.

You might be wondering, what exactly is a SMART goal? Well, a SMART goal is one that is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Rewarding and Timely. SMART goals can be extremely helpful when wanting to make positive improvements to your overall health and wellness. Whether you aim to establish a daily journal, drink more water, incorporate more physical activity, or even quit smoking, employing SMART goals can help you succeed.

When we are setting a SMART goal, first we want to select a goal that is important and meaningful. Action-based goals emphasize the actions within our control rather than fixating on the outcome, significantly enhancing our likelihood of success.

As an example, consider applying the SMART goal approach to the objective of drinking more water:

S – Be Specific: Clearly define what, how, where and who is involved in your goal. For instance, commit to drinking one glass of water with each meal for the next two weeks.

M – Be Measurable: Ensure your goal is quantifiable, specifying how much, how many and how often. In the case of increasing water intake, state a specific amount (one cup) and frequency (with each meal).

A – Be Attainable: Choose a goal that is realistically achievable, even if starting small. Celebrate small victories to build confidence to keep going for setting more goals.

R – Be Rewarding: Select a goal that holds personal significance and feels good. For example, increasing water intake supports overall health and well-being.

T – Be Timely: Set a time for your goal, including a start date and a review/completion date. In the water example, commit to the goal for the next two weeks.

Large goals, such as running a marathon, can be overwhelming. Start with more manageable short-term objectives, like joining a weekly running group for the next month, to avoid setting unattainable targets. Do not forget to celebrate your achievements and seek support from family and friends throughout your journey. Whatever your New Year’s resolutions may be, applying a SMART goal approach can significantly enhance your chances of success this New Year.

For more information, visit https://www.albertahealthservices.ca/assets/info/nutrition/if-nfs-setting-goals-lifestyle-change.pdf

Lisa Doyle is a Health Promotion Facilitator with the Alberta Health Services South Zone Population and Public Health team.

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