So, you’ve heard that SMART goals have a better chance of sticking than the average goal, and you’re ready to try it. But where to start? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with the comprehensive guide to setting SMART goals.
Step 1 – Write down what you want to accomplish
Get a piece of paper and write out your goals, your vision for the future, and what you want to accomplish stream-of-consciousness style. Just write down whatever comes to mind.
Step 2 – Define your foundational goal
Which goals are you ready to start working on? Which goals do you need to wait until you reach your initial goals? Start with the foundational goals that other goals can be built on top of. For example, if you want to run a marathon one day, but can’t run a mile yet, start with the foundation of walking, then jogging, then running a mile. Each milestone is a goal – build on them in order!
Step 3 – Turn your goals into SMART goals
Get a new piece of paper! Write your initial goal at the top. Then add these elements below:
Specific – time to take those intentions and create a clear goal. Planning on hitting the gym more often? Be specific – how often? A vague plan is hard to follow, create a concrete plan to help keep you on track.
Measurable – find a way to measure your goal, whatever it may be. Fitness and weight loss goals may appear to have easy targets to measure, but even healthy eating or habits can be measured. Want to eat more vegetables? Pick a serving amount to aim for each week. The best way to keep track of changes is to write them down, and lucky for you the Brook app is the perfect place to do that!
Achievable – While we like to aim high, it is important to consider what life looks like for you now to make sure your goals will fit into your life without burden. Barely have time to sleep and brush your teeth? An hour long gym session every day may not be in the cards. Start small and achievable – as you settle into a new routine and start to achieve results, you can always increase your goal!
Relevant – this comes back to setting goals with intention. Why are you setting this goal? Is it coming from a place of wanting to support and benefit your life, or is it coming from a place of negative self-talk and punishment? Ditch the deprivation and punishment, the best goals are the ones that allow you to thrive. If a goal comes from a place of negativity, it’s certainly no surprise that we’re willing to ditch it soon after we set it.
Timely – behavior change can take a long time, but that doesn’t mean your goals have to. Set a time-frame to work within – a little bit of structure can go a long way. If your timeline for achieving a goal is far off, it becomes easy to keep brushing aside the steps it may take for goal achievement. Having a close(r) deadline combats procrastination and turns “some day” into a real time. For larger habit changes, you can create in-between goals and checkpoints to keep the momentum going. The more you keep progressing, the easier a larger, long-term habit will be to build.
Here’s an example to get your creative juices flowing:
Goal: I want to eat more vegetables.
(S)pecific: I can make half my plate low-carb veggies at lunches or dinners.
(M)easurable: I can measure progress by tracking how many times I make half my plate veggies each week in my Brook app. If I make half my plate veggies at lunch or dinner 3 times in one week, I’ll know I’ve met my goal.
(A)chievable: Starting with adding veggies to 3 dinners this week seems like something I can do. I’ll create a grocery list today and go to the store this evening in order to start taking action tonight at dinner.
(R)elevant: I’m setting this goal to help improve my health. Eating more vegetables and making my meals look more like the Brook Healthy Plate will help me have more energy, feel less sluggish, and have better digestion.
(T)imely: I’m going to start having my 3 veggie-boosted meals/week tonight. So the deadline is in 7 days. If I reach my goal 2 weeks in a row I will boost my goal to 4 meals/week! After 1 month I will reassess my goals.
By setting up a SMART goal, you can adjust it as needed based on whether you hit the goal or not. If you didn’t meet your goal, what problems did you run into and how can you overcome them? Did you forget to buy enough vegetables when grocery shopping? Make a list for your next shopping trip and you’ll have those veggies on hand to meet your goal.
If you met your goal easily, make it a little harder. If you had some difficulty, keep the goal the same until it gets easier. Continue to build on those smaller goals and eventually you can meet that larger goal that was so daunting at the beginning!
To help you build your SMART goals, we have a handy worksheet that you can print out and fill in.
Reviewed by Kelsea Hoover, MS, RDN
on February 21, 2020. Kelsea is a Registered Dietitian with her Master's degree in Nutrition from Bastyr University in Kenmore, WA, and is one of our Brook Experts.