Many people fail to create new habits because their goals are too vague. “I’m going to eat healthy,” or “I’m going to exercise more,” doesn't give you a direct plan of action. How will you know if you achieve your goal? Creating a SMART goal gives you a plan of action that leads to a successful habit change.
How do you create a SMART goal?
S - Specific
M - Measurable
A - Achievable
R - Realistic
T - Time limited
The S in SMART stands for "specific," but it can also mean "small." Start with a specific and small goal and you're more likely to start and maintain your new habit.
Sure, you might want to exercise for 30 minutes a day. But, starting out with fewer minutes will make you more likely to integrate your new habit into your life. Working out 5 minutes a day is more achievable — that's the A in smart. And, it's measurable and time limited — the M and T.
How well you stick with a new habit can be predicted by how much you have to change your daily routine. When a new habit causes you to change your lifestyle in a major way, it’s more difficult to keep it up. To create a new habit that will stick like glue, focus on the R of your SMART goal.
That's it, we've hit every part of the smart goal. If we want to make it even more specific and measurable, it sounds like this:
“I am going to exercise in the morning before work, 2 days this week, for 5 minutes each time.”
When you've worked out twice this week for 5 minutes each time, then you've hit your goal. Congrats! Now make a new goal that builds on the last. You can increase the time to 10 minutes. Or, think about bumping it up to 3 days a week.
If you’ve got the hang of setting SMART goals and you’ve been working on creating new habits, congrats! It might be time to retake a Lifestyle Assessment to see if your scores have improved.