Everyone has had an unexpected year, some more than others. It’s hard to get back to “normal” after our world was flipped upside down during the previous year. For many, mental and physical health have both been greatly impacted. Many are wondering, where do I begin and how can I start to feel like me again. Setting timely and realistic goals will help get you back on track without the additional stressors. Using the SMART acronym will help get you on the right path.

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Improve Both Physical and Mental Health with the SMART Technique

The acronym SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound and incorporates all of these criteria to help focus efforts and increase the likelihood of achieving a set goal. The technique has been used in everything from project management, employee-performance management, to personal development, and physical and mental health. We have compiled tips to using the SMART technique as a tool to improve both your mental and physical health and establish a “new normal” baseline.

Specific

Your goal should be clear and specific. Try to be as detailed as possible when setting your goal. Thinking ahead to help tackle any future obstacles where you don’t allow a setback to occur.

  • What do you want to achieve?
  • Why is this goal important?
  • What will be my challenges and how will I conquer them?

Measurable

Setting a measurable goal is important so that you can track your progress. So many times, we abandon what we set out to achieve because we don’t feel like we are making progress. Using the “M” and smart can help avoid abandoned goals and keep you motivated to keep working. Thing about a timeline, or what you will have to do daily to achieve the goal you set for yourself. Making a list can help you plan the baby steps that are needed and get excited about meeting your small goals to achieve the overarching goal you have set for yourself.

  • How long will this goal take?
  • How many?
  • How will I know when I have met my goal?

Achievable

Look back on previous goals and see what worked and didn’t. Set smaller goals that will build together to reach your overall goal. Weekly goals to build up to monthly goals are a great building block. Focus one day at a time versus looking too far ahead.

  • How realistic is my goal?
  • What do I need to do to accomplish this?

Relevant

Whatever your goal is, make sure it aligns with your other goals and has meaning to you. Ask yourself why you are setting out to achieve this particular goal. Is it supporting your mental health and well-being? Is the goal to improve your physical health? Whatever your reasons, making sure that your goal is relevant and meaningful will make it easier to stay on track to achieving it.

  • Is this goal worth my while?
  • Is it the right time?
  • Do you have what you need now to be able to make this goal a priority?

Time-bound

Every measurable goal needs a deadline or target date for accountability. A time-based goal helps you to stay focused with something to work toward. Setting a timeline can also give places to reach mini benchmark goals along the path. What can you do today that will benefit the end result?

  • When?
  • How much of my day will it take up and do I have that time available?
  • What can you do today that will benefit the end result?

Applying SMART Technique to Achieve your Mental and Physical Health Goals

Setting SMART goals means you can clarify your ideas, focus your efforts, use your time and resources productively, and increase your chances of achieving what you want in life. For example, if you have a goal to get back into a workout routine, applying the SMART tool can help you stay motivated and achieve your goal piece by piece. See the example below:

End goal: Working out 4 days by June 1st. Now that you have set your goal and a timeline, be Specific. Decide what exercises you will do; are you going to do a weight training program, focus on cardio, general movement? Decide on a location and a time of day that will fit into your schedule. Will a workout program at home or attending a gym work better to achieve your specific plan?

This goal is Measurable. By setting a deadline of June 1st, to be able to work out 4 days a week, work toward achieving your goal by slowly adding one day every few weeks until 4 days a week is set into routine.

It is important to not over complicate your goal, it must be Achievable. To reach this example goal of working out 4 days a week, focus one week at a time. If one week you only get 3 workouts in, just move on. Don’t dwell and start again next week. It’s still 3 more workouts more than you would have done.

Keep your goal and routine Relevant. What is the purpose for this goal? Do you want to work out to decrease weight, stay healthy, strengthen your mental health? Keep reviewing your end goal and picture yourself at that finish line.

The most challenge part of any routine, especially incorporating something new is Time. If you have a busy day and can’t fully do a workout, think about where you can find the time throughout the day to make it happen. Wake up earlier, take a walk on your lunch break, do an exercise while watching your favorite show after work. Analyze what you could change in your day to incorporate your goal in your daily life.

For help and support to improve your mental and physical health, contact Niagara Therapy, LLC.

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