Got health goals? Here's how to reach them.

setting health goals

If your New Year's resolutions are languishing somewhere in a dusty corner of your mind, you're not alone. But don't chalk it up to laziness. You may just need smarter goals! We tend to create resolutions that are sweeping and broad, such as "get in shape" or "eat better." You can almost hear the cinematic music and see the hero (i.e., you!) riding off into the sunset — but when the lights come on, nothing has changed. You can set yourself up for success by developing health goals that focus on the journey, not the destination. Rather than thinking of the end goal, like losing weight, break it down into action steps that you can control. So what if it's early April? It's not too late to revise your 2017 resolutions. Crafting S.M.A.R.T. goals can help you make positive changes that have staying power:

Specific: Use a fine brush, rather than a broad one, when you create your goals. Instead of a vague objective such as “manage stress,” come up with a specific action item, such as “do a 3-minute breathing exercise before work and before bed.”

Measurable: How will you know if you reach your goal? Track your progress in a journal or calendar.

Attainable: Suppose you’ve been sedentary and want to start exercising. Doing a running race next month is not realistic. Start with something you know you can do, like a 15-minute walk on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and build on your progress.

Relevant: Do your goals align with your interests and values? If you think you “should” take up running because your best friend is a runner, but what you really enjoy are walking and swing dancing, go with what you love.

Time-specific: Rather than setting a goal to meditate for 15 minutes, 3 times a week, for eternity, set an end-point — say, one month. When you reach that goal, assess your progress, make adjustments, and set another short-term goal.


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