Why do we engage in self-destructive and harmful behaviors? It’s the million-dollar question of the year.
After all, if we could understand the root cause of our poor habits, our lives would immediately elevate to a new level.
The problem is: Some habits are so deeply ingrained that we carry them out without even realizing it. That’s a tough hurdle to overcome when trying to make meaningful changes.
Fortunately, setting SMART goals is a game changer. As you create practical goals, your life will improve in many ways. But let’s cover what SMART goals are in the first place.
What is a SMART Goal?
Setting SMART goals is a vital part of any behavior change. They provide a clear, specific path to success that you can follow.
For those not in the know, SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-based; each word representing an essential aspect of goal setting:
To change your behavior, you must be clear about your goals. It’s not enough to say, “I want to live healthier.”
It would be best if you had a plan that gets into the nitty-gritty details. For example, a more specific goal would be, “Work out at the gym for 30 minutes each day for three weeks.”
Specify a unit of measurement (e.g. time, amount, etc.) to make it easier to track your progress toward the goal. Using the previous example, 30 minutes of workout is the time measurement for the plan.
Your goals must be realistic and within your abilities to change your behavior. Many people give up too quickly because they strive for results that exceed their current capabilities. Realize that upturning your behavior needs to be achievable yet challenging.
When developing goals, ensure it’s pertinent to your overall values and desires. To illustrate, playing tennis is irrelevant if your objective is to drive more safely.
Relevant goals should encompass everything essential to you, from your professional career to your physical health.
Having a deadline creates a sense of urgency and requires detailed goal planning. For instance, the difference between “quit smoking” and “quit smoking in 5 months” pushes you to take daily action to complete your goal.
10 Examples of SMART Goals for Behavior Change
Below you will find several critical examples of SMART goals for behavior change:
1. Exercise Regularly
“For the next four months, I will go to the gym three times every week. I’ll have a workout plan ready beforehand and complete 10 reps of 25-pound weights. On top of that, I will run on the treadmill for at least 20 minutes.”
Specific: This goal statement outlines a detailed workout regimen you’ll follow. You know exactly what to do to exercise and get into shape.
Measurable: You could check if you’ve run for 20 minutes and completed your reps.
Attainable: The goal isn’t over the top, and you have a reasonable deadline to complete it.
Relevant: Heading to the gym keeps you accountable for exercising on a consistent basis.
Time-based: The end date is four months, which is enough time to accomplish your goal.
2. Save Money
“I will save $200 every month for the next year. I’ll do this by setting aside $50 from each paycheck. I will also put any extra money I have toward my savings goal. By the end of the year, I want to have $2,400 saved up.”
Specific: The individual details how much money they will save and where it will come from.
Measurable: Make sure you track progress by saving at least $200 each month.
Attainable: Saving $200 each month is achievable with intentional effort. It doesn’t require a significant lifestyle change.
Relevant: Saving more money is crucial to your overall financial health.
Time-based: You are expected to accomplish this goal by the end of the year.
3. Stop Smoking
“I will stop smoking cigarettes in the next 5 months. I’ll cut back gradually, going from one pack a day to half a pack in the first month. Then, I’ll only smoke three cigarettes daily for the next three months. In the final month, I hope to be completely cigarette-free.”
Specific: This statement determines when and how you will quit smoking cigarettes.
Measurable: You could measure your progress by checking the number of cigarettes you smoke daily.
Attainable: This is achievable because you are cutting back gradually, making it easier to quit smoking altogether.
Relevant: The goal is relevant to your overall health and well-being.
Time-based: There is a 5-month deadline to reach this goal.
4. Prevent Procrastination
“I will start working on my assignment at 9 AM every day and take a break every hour. I’ll work for one hour straight, then take a 5-minute break. I’ll continue this process until I finally complete the task.
Specific: The goal outlines your actions on how to complete your assignment on time without procrastinating.
Measurable: Progress is measured by determining how long you spend working on the assignment daily.
Attainable: There is a 5-minute break every hour you work to prevent burnout.
Relevant: This is relevant to curbing your procrastination habits and staying productive with your work.
Time-based: This is an ongoing goal until your assignment is completed.
5. Go to Bed Earlier
“I will go to bed at 10 PM every night for the next week. I’ll turn off my electronics an hour before bed and read for 30 minutes. I’ll then get in bed and relax for a few minutes before falling asleep.”
Specific: This SMART statement explains how you’ll turn off digital devices and relax to fall asleep earlier at night.
Measurable: Progress is tracked by ensuring you head to bed before 10 PM. You may also practice the listed actions to sleep easier.
Attainable: It’s relatively easy to make a small change to your nightly routine.
Relevant: The goal is relevant to changing your sleeping habits for the better.
Time-based: There is a one-week timeline for meeting this specific goal.
6. Drive Safely
“I will not text and drive for the next month. I will put my phone in the backseat so I’m not tempted to use it while driving. If I need to use my phone, I will pull over to the side of the road.”
Specific: You have actionable steps to curb any poor texting and driving habits.
Measurable: You have the option of checking how many times you use your phone while driving.
Attainable: This is achievable and realistic because you already intend to avoid phone usage while driving.
Relevant: Your overall safety holds the utmost importance in your life.
Time-based: Goal attainment is expected sometime after one month.
7. Cultivate Mindfulness
“For two months, I want to practice mindfulness for 10 minutes daily. I will do this by sitting comfortably and focusing on my breath. I will focus on the present moment and let any thoughts come into my mind pass.”
Specific: The person explains the actionable steps to practice mindfulness, such as focusing on the present and sitting in a comfortable position.
Measurable: Make sure you spend at least 10 minutes on mindfulness daily.
Attainable: This goal is possible because you only need to practice for a short time each day.
Relevant: Being mindful will encourage peace and silence in your busy and hectic life.
Time-based: You should expect goal completion is expected after two months.
8. Eat More Healthy Meals
“I want to eat three healthy meals each day for the next two weeks. I’ll include various fruits, vegetables, and lean protein with each meal. I will also drink plenty of water throughout the day.”
Specific: The goal statement concerns the particular types of healthy meals you will eat.
Measurable: Make sure you have at least three healthy meals every day.
Attainable: You are making a small change to your diet, so this goal is achievable.
Relevant: Eating healthy will support your overall health and well-being.
Time-based: The deadline is two weeks, which is reasonable for goal accomplishment.
9. Spend Time With Family
“To bond with my loved ones, I will spend 30 minutes each day talking to my family for the next three weeks. I’ll make sure to keep in touch with my parents and siblings.”
Specific: This goal statement is clear about the time you will spend talking to your loved ones.
Measurable: Ensure you spend at least 30 minutes conversing with your family members each day.
Attainable: This is achievable because you only make a small change to your daily routine.
Relevant: The goal is relevant to boost your overall relationship with your family.
Time-based: You are expected to pursue this goal for three weeks.
10. Volunteer More
“I want to give back to my community, so I’ll volunteer for two hours weekly for the next month. I will call my local volunteer center to find out where I can help.”
Specific: The person is clear about volunteering at their local community each week.
Measurable: This goal is measured by volunteering at least two hours weekly.
Attainable: With proper time management, you can free up your schedule to volunteer.
Relevant: Helping out your community is a wonderful goal to set for yourself.
Time-based: You must ideally reach this goal within one month.
Changing your behavior is challenging. It’s difficult, no matter how good your intentions are.
Countless obstacles get in the way. Maybe you’ve tried to change but couldn’t stay the course. Or perhaps you lost motivation over time.
Whatever the case may be, you’re not alone. But the good news is that you can create SMART goals to increase your chances of success.
It would be great if you recognized that setting SMART goals is a fantastic way to meet your desired outcomes. Give it a try and see how well it works for you.
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