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  • Lindsey Van Wagner

Setting Health Goals

Just hearing the word "goal" can fill me with stress and anxiety.


goal - (noun) the object of a person's ambition or effort; an aim or desired result.


I feel like it reminds me of what I am not doing to better my life, the actions I'm not taking, the commitments I'm not making. Sometimes we face the same problem day after day, week after week, month after month - trying to formulate solutions with our thoughts alone, as if we can will these things in to being.


By not setting intentions and by not taking those small, incremental steps we are actually causing ourselves more anxiety. That inner voice will keep gnawing away at our insides and by not taking an action in response, we are making a choice. We are essentially saying to ourselves, "Instead of doing _______, I'll just sit here and worry about it some more." <-- (I borrowed this thought from Julia Cameron's book The Artist's Way.)


Why is that first step so hard?


One reason is that sometimes these visions we hold are too vague or maybe even too lofty - "I want to be healthier," or "I want less stress in my life," or "I want huge muscles" - and it seems like we are so far away, like it will take so long to get from here to there.


How can we take the next small step to gravitate toward a larger change? How can we learn to empower ourselves and build that confidence - one action at a time?


The SMART acronym* is used all over the world to help people set a variety of goals: work and career, health, financial, personal development, and many more. The principles are simple and the idea is to make your goal Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time based. By taking small, realistic steps and tracking your changes over time, you are more likely to find success.


Below is an example of a general health goal that can be refined through use of the SMART model.


Original Goal:

“I want to lose weight.”


S – Specific: Set a goal with an objective that provides a clear direction.


M – Measurable: Develop an outcome that is easy to measure, monitor, and track.


A – Attainable: Make sure your goal is a challenge, but still within your reach and possible to achieve.


R – Realistic: Focus on a goal that accommodates your schedule and your current circumstances.


T – Time based: Attach a time frame to your goal.


Revised SMART Goal:

“I will walk for 45 minutes three times a week – on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays after work – beginning on the first day of April. I will track my time and distance on my smart phone. On the last day of the month I will weigh myself to measure my progress.”


Write down your goal and place it in a spot where you will see it often. This will increase your likelihood of success. Have fun!


You can do this.


Sending you love, power, and strength,


Linz


photo taken at Ciboné in Frederiksted, St. Croix, VI


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*The SMART acronym first appeared in the November 1981 issue of Management Review. "There's a S.M.A.R.T. way to write management goals and objectives" was the title and it was written by George Doran, Arthur Miller, and James Cunningham.

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