Be SMART: Set Goals you Can Keep

  • author name The Wellness Team
Older woman exercising with trainer

Are you like more than half of Americans who make resolutions at the start of a new year, or commit to changes during heart or cancer awareness months, only to have your good intentions fall quickly by the wayside?

No one wants to set themselves up for failure, but that’s exactly what many people do by making these 3 mistakes:

  • Set lofty goals: I’ll lose 100 pounds by summer.
  • Set unrealistic goals: I’ll never eat dessert again.
  • Set no real time frame: I’ll begin exercising soon.

On the other hand, you can set yourself up for success by setting SMART goals that are:

  • Specific: Use the 5 "W" questions: who, what, where, why, which.
  • Measurable: Answer the question, "How will I know when I've reached my goals?"
  • Attainable: Stretch yourself, but be mindful of legitimate constraints.
  • Realistic: Choose a goal that is important to you and related to your other goals.
  • Timely: Set both a final deadline and smaller targets to hit along the way.

SMART goals outline exactly what you want to accomplish, along with how and when you will accomplish them. Making your goals concrete is one way to hold yourself accountable, and will also help you to know when you have been successful.

Next Steps

Once you set a goal, write it down and share it with those around you. If it’s an especially large goal, like losing a significant amount of weight, break it up into shorter-term goals that will ultimately help you achieve the larger goal.

For instance, to help you reach your New Year’s resolution of losing 40 pounds before your July beach vacation, you could set these short-term goals:

  • I will get up 10 minutes earlier every day and eat a healthy breakfast before work.
  • I will walk every day for 10 minutes during my lunch break.

These more manageable goals will ultimately help you achieve your larger goal and feel successful along the way.

Reward Yourself

Remember to reward yourself for all of your hard work. Determine a reward (not involving food!) when you set your goal. Some goals are easier to achieve with help from others, and sometimes you may need professional expertise. LG Health has several resources to help you adopt a healthier lifestyle:

  • Healthy Changes. Healthy You
  • Health Hub blog


author name

The Wellness Team

The Lancaster General Community Health team consists of educators, dietitians, exercise physiologists, and public health experts focused on providing resources, education and programming to improve the health and well-being of the communities we serve.

Call: 717-544-3811

About LG Health Hub

The LG Health Hub features breaking medical news and straightforward advice to help individuals of all ages make healthy choices and reach their wellness goals. The blog puts articles by trusted Lancaster General Health clinical experts, good 'n healthy recipes, videos, patient stories, and health risk assessments at your fingertips.


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