When I started working with my client Mary she was feeling overwhelmed and frustrated. She had a long history of feeling like a failure when it came to setting and achieving goals. After some good discussion, my feeling was that Mary had continued to make the same goal for 15 years. I asked her if that paticular goal was helpful to her and she came to the realization that it actually hadn’t been helpful. The goal hadn’t helped her eat healthier or exercise with consistency. I explained to Mary that goals are supposed to motivate us and helps us, not drag us down or cause us to feel awful! After a bit of persuading on my part, we decided to shift gears to find some more helpful goals. We based these new goals of the SMART acronym. Goals ought to be:
S: Specific-the what, why, and how of the SMART goals setting pattern.
M: Measurable- it needs to be something that can be measured so you can see progress.
A: Attainable- Challenging but achievable.
R: Realistic- This doesn’t mean easy but do-able.
T: Timely- Set a time frame. This helps you to track your goals and helps you to know whether or not you are actually doing the work. Remember, there is a difference between short and long term goal. Short term goals ought to help you reach your long term goals.
Mary’s Old Goal: Lose 10 pounds. In my opinion, this did not meet any of the criteria for a SMART Goal.
Mary’s New Goal: Eat two pieces of fruit and two pieces of vegetables per day. This meets all of the criteria above. In fact, she just sent me an email letting me know that she’s met that goal nearly every day since we set it together two months ago! Whoohoo- that’s what I call progress.
Remember, goals can be modified. If a goal isn’t helping you to make positive lifestyle changes, ditch it and make a new one that suits you better.
If you’d like some feedback on your own nutrition and exercise goals, send an email to your friendly neighborhood nutritionist in Cambridge. Marci (marci@marciRD.com)