SMART goals for health and wealth

Published 6:26 pm Tuesday, January 8, 2019


Boyle County Extension Agent for Family and Consumer Sciences

Well, it’s January again, and I’m blown away by how fast time seems to be flying. It’s common for us to make claims to change in the new year, so we set goals and make plans. I’m sure some of you have set goals for yourself to power you through 2019, but how sustainable are those goals? Today we are going to talk a little about setting SMART goals for all of your successes this year.

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Some of the most common goals or resolutions for the new year include things related to improving one’s health and finances. Whether it’s drinking more water or eating less fried food, there’s a good chance your healthy goal relates to what you eat. Some goals can be related to physical and fiscal fitness such as saving money by eating healthy meals at home. No matter what your goal is, making them SMART goals will help you achieve it. So let’s break it down.

Specific goals are ones that have set dates, or dollar amounts, or resources needed to accomplish them. For example, if you wanted to cook more meals at home, you could circle the days of the week you will cook at home on a calendar. Next you could set a food budget which would be a dollar amount related to cooking at home. Then, you could select recipes that would be great resources for you to use when making home-cooked meals. Saving money on food cost is easy when you plan your meals based on what’s on sale and what’s in season. Needless to say, I’ve been eating a lot of kale salads because it was on sale and is super filling and nutrient dense.

Goals should also be measurable. You should be able to quantify your progress. If you set a goal for drinking more water then you should choose the amount of water you want to drink each day and stick to it. For example, you could set a goal to drink four 16-ounce bottles of water per day. Don’t forget to track your spending on paper or in an app. Identifying spending leaks can really help you cut back on unnecessary spending and increase your savings.

Attainable goals are more specific to your situation, something that you are likely to achieve. You may not be able to cut out soda cold turkey, but reducing the amount of soda you drink is a step in the right direction. Small steps toward a big goal can create a success over time.

Realistic goals are similar to attainable goals as they are more likely to happen. Set goals for yourself that are realistic. You can’t lose 50 pounds overnight, or in a month safely. It’s not likely that you’re going to get off the couch one day and run a marathon the next. Train a little each day, and over time you’ll be able to run a marathon. Trust me, it just takes time.

Which brings me to my last point: Time. Make your goals timely. Put a timeline on it. Set a deadline for yourself to reach your goal. Say in three months, you plan to save $600. It also helps to set smaller goals along the way to help you reach your big goal. Say each month, you’re going to cut back on eating fast food, save $200 a month so that in 3 months you’ll have $600 saved. If you break it down with a deadline and list your strategy to achieve the goal you’re more likely to achieve it. I know we were talking about food and health, but fiscal health is just as important as physical health in my book.

The most important thing I want you to remember about setting goals of any kind is that it takes time to achieve them. You’re not going to get rich or lose a bunch of weight overnight. If you set SMART goals and take small steps to achieve them, then you are more likely to be successful.