A vision is your dream – what you want to do and achieve, how you want to live your live – your future you. So, once you have your vision, how do you get from “what is” to “what can be?”
If your vision is the destination on your roadmap to wellness, then your goals are the roads you will travel on your journey.
Setting and achieving goals is nothing new. You’ve been setting goals and attaining your objectives throughout your life, beginning with your plans to convince your parents to get you a special toy. As you matured, your goals became more sophisticated and long term, such as completing your education, deciding on a career, saving for a house.
However, achieving these long-term goals, especially wellness goals, can prove daunting. Fortunately, there are proven tactics that can help you keep moving forward.
Identify a small, incremental step toward your goal and focus on how (process) as much as what (outcome). When you identify a step that addresses the process (for example, walking for 20 minutes, five days a week), you’ll have a clear understanding of what you have to do to achieve something bigger (increase your energy and be more active).
SMART goals recognize that one of the keys to achieving your goals is the ability to identify the steps needed to reach a large goal and measure progress toward the goal.
- Specific – Be specific in your goal: losing 15 pounds, exercising 30 minutes a day, saving $20 per paycheck, etc.
- Measurable – Make sure your goal is measurable. Don’t set a goal to lose weight or save money. Specify how much weight you want to lose or how much money to save. This will allow you to measure your progress.
- Attainable – Can you reach your goal? You want your goal to be achievable and realistic.
- Relevant – Does this goal fit in with your larger goals? For example, if your overall goal is to lower your cholesterol, does a goal to exercise 30 minutes a day help you lower your cholesterol?
- Timely – Set a deadline to reach your goal. Open-ended goals allow you to put off working toward your goal.
By using the SMART Goals criteria, you can determine if your goal is achievable and what timeframe is best for making change. If your goal falls short, then adjust. You want to stretch and grow, but you don’t want to set the bar so high that you will get frustrated and quit. And when you do experience some failure (it’s common!), remember the vision that got you started. It’s your touchstone of inspiration.
The SMART goal strategy applies to any goal for improving health: financial, physical or psychological.
Find an Accountability Partner
You’ll dramatically increase the likelihood of reaching your goals if you find someone, or a support group, who will partner with and meet with you. A partner will provide support, help you identify roadblocks and find solutions, and provide encouragement as you work toward your goals. Equally important, a partner will hold you accountable to your goal and the steps you need to take to achieve your goal. It’s even better if you are also providing support to your partner as he or she works toward his or her goal.
One study published in the Psychology of Sport and Exercise showed that having friends with good exercise habits can impact your own habits. And a study from Indiana University showed that married couples who went to the gym together had only a 6.3% dropout rate compared to those married couples who went on their own, who had a 43% dropout rate. Read about these studies.
Identify a partner for support who will hold you accountable, and schedule a time to get started today!
Tips & Resources - Set Attainable Goals
This material is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be professional medical advice or treatment. Always seek the advice of a healthcare professional with any questions about personal healthcare status and prior to making changes in approaches to diet and exercise. This material is not a guarantee of coverage under any Episcopal Church Medical Trust health plan.
Unless otherwise noted, websites referenced herein that are outside the www.cpg.org domain are not associated with The Church Pension Fund and its affiliates (collectively, the Church Pension Group) and the Church Pension Group is not responsible for the content of any such websites.