- Maggie Prokop
New Semester, New SMART Goals
The beginning of each semester brings new schedules and change. Developing goals helps us adjust to these changes as well as stay organized and focused. Goals guide us to where we want to be and beyond. They can be applied to everything in life, especially when thinking about one’s physical health. It is always easier said than done, but learning about the process is the first step to achieving SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-bound.
There are a few key components when thinking about the process of obtaining physical goals. It is important to make them specific. Goals can be big and small, but not broad. If the goals in mind are general, there is going to be no clear direction of the steps needed to achieve the goals. Second, the goals should be measurable. When goals are measurable, it is easier to track progress and assess whether the steps that have been set are leading in the direction of the end goal. For a goal to be measured, it needs to be attainable. In other words, the goal must be realistic in the sense that it should fit into the lifestyle one lives or desires to live. Including goals into a lifestyle means the goal is relevant, which is another key factor when designing goals. Lastly, the goals should be time-bound, meaning there is a definite end date. Having a deadline can be used as motivation to be consistent.
Once your long-term goals have been written down, create a plan by breaking down those goals into smaller steps or short term goals. Starting with small goals will lead you in the direction of bigger goals. Consider them stepping stones that will lead you to success. The simple act of putting on your sneakers and moving your body for 10 minutes a day is a step in the right direction.
Consistency and a support system are other key factors in achieving your healthful goals. These components work together to make SMART goals easier to achieve. Consistency is important because it creates habit. When starting a new journey, the hardest part is not only the beginning but staying motivated throughout the process as well. Whether it is going for a walk or going to the gym, your body needs to stay consistent with movement, especially when it seems difficult to get out of bed. The consistency of the process makes the body turn working out into a habit, which makes the SMART goals easier to accomplish. A support system helps with consistency as well. It is inevitable that bad days arise because that is life. However, when friends, family and trainers are conscious of the goals you have set for yourself, they turn into a source of motivation. They can offer words of encouragement during tough times and be a reminder that the process is not easy.
A healthy lifestyle is not a destination; it is a lifelong journey with bumps in the road. It is important to understand that change does not happen overnight. When the goals have not been reached within the time frame, it is hard to continue to persevere because failure has occurred. If a certain goal has not been reached, do not give up, reset the goal and start smaller. Baby steps are still steps in the right direction. Recognize that goal setting is a trial and error process, and that not everything always goes as planned. The key to success is overcoming failure.
When goals are achieved, set new ones. Start the process over and add onto the achieved goal to advance one’s physical health. Making SMART goals are key when starting a journey to live a healthier lifestyle.