Wooden path through trees at Castle Heralec caitdonovan.com

Setting Health Goals, The SMART Way

So, I went on a walk with my dog, Flora (the explora). Lately, when we go outside, she does her thing and then runs back to the gate right away. She does this only with me, not with my husband and it’s been a mystery to me for 2 or 3 months. I have convinced myself that she doesn’t like to walk with me so she avoids it. My latest claim to my husband is an overly dramatic “Our dog HATES me and thinks that I am a terrible walker!”  


Usually, when we go out, I don’t have an agenda. If she goes left, fine. If she goes right, fine. There are plenty of forest paths and parks around the house, so no matter the direction, we have a decent walk to do. But then, without a clear direction, she turns around and runs home. She knows where that is and what is waiting for her there.


The other day, I decided to do something different.


I decided, solidly, that we would walk down the main road until we got to the forest that’s about 1km from our apartment. I didn’t give her options, I kept on walking. She resisted a couple of times and then just got right into it.


And I had an AHA moment.


As soon as I made a clear choice and knew where I was heading and why, she followed right along. There were moments of resistance but they didn’t last because I was clear on my path.

This made my head spin. Are we not motivated to self care because we don’t know what the goal is or why we are going there? Sure, I want to lose weight because I have an idea in my head that I look and feel best at 63 kilos but I like and enjoy my life. Starving myself isn’t on my list of things to do and to be honest, getting rid of desserts isn’t big on my list of things to do either. (Sugar is sort of my blessing and curse.. Read about that here).


Motivation for self care has been a big topic for me for the past couple of months. It can be really difficult to stick to your guns about an eating habit when you are at a birthday party. Creating that exercise routine that you know you need keeps getting pushed back because you’re tired, busy, etc. etc. If you don’t know where you are headed, you’ll always fall back on your old patterns because you know what to expect there.

It’s just SO EASY to not do ALL the STUFF.


But maybe, if we had clear ideas of where we were headed and why, it would be easier. We would focus on a few key things instead of everything. We would do one small thing at a time and watch them build on one another. Long term health is a great goal, but it’s sort of unclear and frankly, not 100% in our control. So – choosing to exercise in order to keep yourself healthy in old age might NOT be a good enough driving factor to get you on that routine. I love to exercise because I love to feel strong. Feeling physically strong is important to me. It makes me mentally stronger too – when I am fit, I feel like I can take on the world.


That being said, I don’t always keep up my routine.  Without a physical trainer, I fall off the wagon big time. So then – can I break down my exercise goal? Make it smaller, more attainable and more attractive to today?


In the world of life coaching, S.M.A.R.T. goals is the standard for goal setting. Goals should be:


Specific – This speaks for itself. Long term health is not specific. Stop bloating is.

Measurable – Measurable in amount, time, distance… you name it, but you have to have a scale to judge yourself against or else you’ll never know when you reach your goal.

Achievable – Is it reasonable for you, your body, your mental state, your finances, your family?

Relevant – Does it make sense in the grand scheme of your life plans?

Time Bound – Set a realistic date. Just because you CAN drop 10lbs in 2 weeks doesn’t mean you should. Be gently firm with yourself here.


So, let’s break down my exercise goal.


Specific – Right now, I am really into push ups. I am currently at the “on the knees” push up level. Coming from someone who used to be able to do clap push ups, I’d really like to improve.

Measurable – So, I’d like to be able to do 10 regular, full body push-ups. 10 is  going to be my measure, for now.

Achievable – Yes, I can definitely do this.

Relevant – I am learning a lot of new things right now and I feel that if I were able to attain this level of strength, it would give me greater belief that I can tackle other challenges that I am facing.

Time Bound – It is mid July as I write this. I fly home for a visit in August. I would like to be able to do this before August 22nd. That gives me about 40 days. I am working out with a personal trainer 2x per week and once on my own, so 6 weeks is a reasonable time frame.


Now, for kicks, let’s break down my sugar habits goal. I am going to be really honest here. I am not trying to create a goal here, I am just letting you know what’s floating in my mind so that you can be honest about what’s floating in your mind too.


Specific – This flops around from: eat no sugar to eat no dessert to eat less dessert to …So, it’s not specific and I can’t decide on something that feels solid to me.

Measurable – without a specific goal, it’s hard to measure… this isn’t looking good so far

Achievable – No matter what the specific goal is, I am not really convinced internally that I can do it. I think technically, it’s attainable. In reality? Not so sure

Relevant – Yes. Lowering my sugar intake increases my digestive powers, allows me to be a kilo or two lighter than I am and leaves me with more stable energy throughout the day. This allows me to feel good in my clothes and have the energy to work on my newest projects.

Time Bound – My automatic internal answer to this was “F off”. Seriously. Leave me and my sugar alone.


Any questions as to why I haven’t done that yet? 😉


I’ve asked a few questions about health goals over on my facebook page lately. Some of the responses wouldn’t hold up to this S.M.A.R.T. goals method.


What about yours? Do you know what you are really aiming for? And why?





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