SMART Goals, SMART Results
Most of us tend to overreach just a bit when we set goals. I want to lose 50 pounds by the time school starts (4 weeks away); I want to run the Portland Marathon this year (I can barely do a 5K, and the marathon is 3 months away); I'm going to get up every morning and walk 4 miles before work. (I did it once).
Is it any wonder we fail to meet our goals? And when we fail, we feel worse about ourselves. The magic about SMART goals is that the process of setting them makes you slow down and keep a foot in reality, without robbing you of that feel-good glow you get from setting a goal.
Here's the deal.
SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time bound.
The first SMART goal I set was to start drinking water instead of Diet Pepsi. It looked like this:
- Specific - drink water instead of Diet Pepsi
- Measurable - drink 80-100 ounces of water a day and zero diet sodas
- Attainable - work on this goal during the summer, when I am off work and able to deal with the increased trips to the bathroom and potential headaches.
- Relevant - my body needs water; it does not need diet sodas. Diet Pepsi also triggers the desire to eat unhealthy food like cookies, chips and candy
- Time Bound - acclimate to the change by the time school starts in four weeks.
I realize that I was really tackling two goals - eliminating addictive Diet Pepsi, and working up to recommended amount of water. But they in fact go hand in hand. And more important, I approached it by focusing on what I was adding - water - instead of what I was giving up - Diet Pepsi. A subtle difference, but one that established a pattern for all the changes I've made by setting SMART goals in the past year.
Create an environment for success
Part of achieving goals is to create an environment that will foster success. On the morning of the changeover I had five bottles of Diet Pepsi left in the fridge; I poured them down the drain. I filled all five 20-ounce water bottles with tap water and put them in the fridge. My thinking was that this system would satisfy a long-standing habit of reaching into the into the fridge for my bubbly fizzy drinks. Over the course of the day I spaced out drinking all five bottles of water. The next morning I refilled the five bottles. I dealt with the toilet trips by staying close to home; I dealt with the caffeine withdrawal by keeping physically active working on projects in the yard and around the house.
After a couple of weeks I realized that the need to pee had leveled off to where I could actually go for hours without "going," that I didn't have any headaches, and that I wasn't having to remind myself to drink water -- It just came naturally.
In addition to the health benefits of being optimally hydrated, I just figured out that I've also saved a ton of money. Check it out:
Estimating 5 bottles a day, averaging .75/bottle = $3.75/day x 365 = $1,368.75 a year! Add in the cost of all the extras that I often bought when I bought sodas (candy, chips, cookies) and it really adds up. I'm no longer spending all that money for something that made me fat, kept me addicted, and contributed nothing to my health. That's the kind of savings that really makes a SMART goal even smarter!
So go forth and set your goals, and make them SMART!