By Kayla Cole, RDN, LRD, Outpatient Dietitian, Trinity Health
With the turn of a new year, many of us start thinking about new goals and resolutions to set for ourselves. While setting goals and trying to better ourselves is recommended, many of us struggle to know how to set goals, or we tend to make them so difficult that they can’t ever be reached.
If you’ve ever had an appointment with me, you’ve probably heard me say that, when I have a to-do list, I write down tasks I have already completed just so I can cross them off. Maybe you do too. Why do we do this? Because it feels good! Give yourself credit for what you have already done. If we only set goals or tasks that are difficult to meet, it is hard to keep motivated and working towards something.
So how can we set goals that will work? Set SMART goals. Maybe you have already heard of them, maybe you haven’t, but either way, most of us could use some practice.
SMART goals are:
Don’t just say things like, “I’m going to eat better,” or, “I’m going to be active.” How are you going to do this? What are the barriers? What is a realistic expectation? How often will you do it? It seems daunting to think through these types of questions, but it really can help you mark progress on your journey toward success.
As a member of the Mayo Clinic Care Network, we would also like to share information from Mayo’s website regarding SMART goals:
- Eating healthier sounds like a good idea. But what does it really mean? Aim for specific goals instead, such as eliminating soda, eating five servings of vegetables a day or limiting your daily sugar intake to 30 grams of added sugar.
- Make your goal one you can measure. Walking three days a week is a goal you can track; a goal of walking more is less so.
- Avoid aiming too high or too low. Think like Goldilocks and find a goal that feels just right.
- Losing 10 pounds a week sounds great. But it’s an impossible goal that will likely leave you discouraged — and more likely to give up on your efforts. Choosing realistic goals that you can meet will reinforce your efforts and keep you moving forward.
- Choosing specific, measurable goals means you can track your progress over time. Write your efforts down in a journal or track them on an app so you can see how far you’ve come.
Here are a few examples of SMART goals:
- Exercise for 30 minutes at least four days per week for two months.
- Eat two meat-free dinners per week for one month.
- Spend 60 minutes of screen-free time with my children every Saturday.
- Put away all mobile devices and shut off all screens by 9 p.m. on weeknights for one month.
- Call grandparents each Sunday afternoon for six months.
- Walk at least 10,000 steps tracked on a pedometer at least five days per week.
- Enjoy a video chat with a friend at least one day per week during June.
Hopefully these tips can start you out on what I hope is a happy and healthy year for you. If you have any nutrition questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out to the outpatient dietitians at 701-857-5268. Stay healthy, stay safe, wear a mask, and wash your hands!