You are where you are today because of daily habits. We all want to make our health a priority, but sometimes, life can get in the way. Between busy work schedules, caring for your children and ageing parents and trying to find some ’you’ time, healthy goals tend to fall by the wayside.

Maybe it’s easier to hit up the drive-through after a busy day, instead of going to the grocery store to grab dinner ingredients. Or maybe you’ve developed a habit of skipping the gym because you worked late and just want to go home and relax. Regardless of the reason or habit, to make a significant change, you must exchange bad habits for good habits.

The secret to changing your habits to improve your health? Setting SMART goals.

A tried and true method used in business for decades, a SMART goal is a set of criteria used for creating attainable, realistic goals. SMART stands for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant or Realistic
  • Timely

Specific SMART goals can help you gently trade unhealthy habits for healthy ones.

SMART Goals: Essential for Change

Specific: Specific goals are easier to reach. A 2015 study conducted by Dominican University found that when participants wrote down specific goals, 70 percent of the participants were able to reach their goals. Of those who did not write down a specific goal, only 35 percent were able to achieve them.

Measurable: A measurable goal is specific and has a clear end goal. These often involve numbers, such as how much weight you would like to lose or by what date you would like to lose the weight.

Achievable: Goals should be something you can attain and something you want to do. Create a timeline or plan out your goal in a visual way.

Relevant/Realistic: Your goal should focus on realistic, relevant results that can be achieved.

Timely: SMART goals set time limits to create a sense of urgency, similar to deadlines.

Improve Your Health with SMART Goals

As a society, we tend to do whatever is easiest. It is easier to pick up fast food than make a healthy meal at home. It is easier to skip exercising than to go to the gym. However, taking the path of least resistance can create habits that negatively affect health. Employing the strategy of SMART goals will help you replace unhealthy choices with healthy ones.

A SMART Goal Example for Health and Wellness

  • Specific: “I will lose 10 kilograms by 1 February by cutting out extra lollies, soft drinks, eating more vegetables and exercising.”
  • Measurable: “To reach my goal, I must lose 1 kilogram per month.”
  • Achievable: “I will reach my goal by cutting out 600 kilojoules each day and exercising three times a week with my new workout app.”
  • Realistic: “I will exercise at home because I never have time to visit the gym.”
  • Timely: “I will stick to this health plan for 12 months to reach my goal.”

SMART goals provide a simple outline for creating realistic, attainable goals. Rather than pledging to get healthy, try creating a SMART goal instead. Research shows your odds of reaching your goals are much higher when you create SMART goals for yourself.

What are some SMART goals you would like to set for yourself to help you improve health and live healthier?