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Learn the benefits of setting SMART Goals

By: Kirsten Rice

The New Year has come and gone, but that doesn’t mean it is not the perfect time to start making decisions that can change your health and well-being. New Year’s resolutions are a great jump-start for setting a goal, but small changes throughout the year have been shown to make the biggest impact over the long run, thus resulting in better outcomes. Goals are an important part of staying accountable and assisting in success. When setting a goal statement use the SMART principle.

S-Is your goal specific?
If your goal is to get in better shape or to make a lot of money, it is not going to do you much good. These goals are not specific enough to motivate you. Try setting a goal you would likely be able to achieve, like doing a dozen push-ups by the end of the month or saving $1000 by your birthday.

M-Is your goal measurable?
How will you measure your progress? Will you know when you are halfway there? To be able to swim is vague; to be able to swim the length of the pool without stopping is measurable.

A-Is your goal action-oriented?
Does your goal require action on your part? To have all the snow off your patio by August does not require any action on your part. Action must be required for the accomplishment of your goal.

R-Is your goal realistic?
Do you believe that it is reasonable to think you could accomplish your goal in the time you have given yourself? It is much better to set a very realistic goal that you can achieve than to set yourself up for failure.

T-Is your goal time-bound?
A goal without a deadline is just a wish. When will you accomplish your goal? The deadline will keep you accountable and make your goal-setting process effective.

If you have set the same goal repeatedly maybe it’s time to try a different approach. Think of the process that makes this goal possible. If you are going to eat healthier, maybe it starts with menu planning each week or having one day a week when you have a meatless meal. If you want to exercise 3 times a week but aren’t finding the motivation, try a class or get a workout partner and make it for a week, then a month, then 6 months and it will be a habit before you know it.

Try to set an unconventional resolution and get away from the normal weight loss, eating better or spending less money goals echoed year after year. Maybe you have a goal to live more simply. Decluttering each space in your home is another way to make a healthy impact in your life. Volunteer at least one time a week and see what it does for your spirit. Try deleting Candy Crush, Facebook and Fruit Ninja from your phone and be more direct with your time.

Have fun being successful with your goals. You set them for a reason, so don’t let your goals feel like a drag. “Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other.” Abraham Lincoln.

Kirsten Rice is the Health and Fitness Director at the Fox West YMCA. She earned her degree in Kinesiology from Michigan State University with an emphasis in Health Promotion Specialization. She is a Certified Personal Trainer through the American College of Sports Medicine. She has been practicing in the field for 10 years and enjoys helping people find the right avenue to achieve their health and wellness goals. Contact Kirsten at or 920.560.3413.