SMART Goals-Make This Year Your Best Year

By Anne Danahy MS RDN


It’s a new year and a whole new decade, which means new resolutions and goals. Whether they’re for you, your business, or you’re trying to help patients navigate the challenges of making changes, it’s essential to have a plan.

New Year’s resolutions or goals in general, are like a road trip to someplace unfamiliar. You know where you’re starting and where you want to end. However, without a GPS to guide you and redirect you when you get lost, you’ll play it safe, turn around, and end up right back where you started.

That lack of a step-by-step plan is a big reason change is so hard for all of us. So, if you find yourself (or your patients) stuck in the same rut, try a new approach this year, by breaking down your goals into smaller, more manageable chunks, and setting SMART goals.

SMART goals are goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Rewarding, and Time-bound

Specific refers to the details about what you want to accomplish. Focus not only what, but also why, how, and when. This forces you to set some deadlines and gets you thinking more about the smaller details and what’s needed to accomplish the goal.

Measurable refers to how you’ll track your progress. Your patients may wish to track body composition, bloodwork, or a food and exercise log. If your goal is business-related, you might want to track income and expenses, ad revenue from your website, or how many contacts you want to reach out to each month. It’s important to measure progress on small milestones along the way and not only your end goal.

Achievable is all about how realistic your goal is, and whether you have the skills or support needed to make it happen. You may realize you need help, additional tools or knowledge, or you may even realize your overall goal is too lofty and you need to set a smaller goal. That’s OK – because small goals make for easier wins, which gives you the confidence to stretch more on the next goal. Analyzing whether a goal is achievable also helps you to identify any barriers you might face along the way, and how best to navigate them.

Rewarding goals are the kind that not only make sense for you personally or professionally but also get you excited to work on them. If you’re working with patients who are not excited about the prospect of making changes, help them to identify the potential rewards and small wins along the way that make them feel rewarded. If they can’t see the reward, it might not worth doing the work right now. Instead, wait until they’re ready, and choose a different goal to work on.

Time bound means you’re on a deadline and the clock is ticking. Nothing makes us more productive than a deadline that’s looming overhead, right? However, rather than focusing on one big deadline at the end of the year, set a smaller deadline each month, or even each week. Identify specific tasks that you want to accomplish to move toward your end goal. Each deadline should move you one step closer.

As an example, if you’re setting a personal goal, or one for your business, consider the end goal, but also, work backward. Where should you be in six months if you hope to accomplish it? What do you need to achieve in the next three months to meet that six-month milestone? What should you do each month to stay on track? Write it all down, set your deadlines, and start tracking your progress each week. It might sound overwhelming, but if your end goal is truly rewarding, you’ll see the value.

Whether a resolution involves eating better, improving your health, or hitting that six-figure mark in your business, having a solid, detailed plan is often what will determine your success. Take the time up front to make a map, study the route to see where you might get lost, and get set for an adventure!