Set a goal that you can start today! Achieve Your SMART Goal in 5 Steps.

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You don’t have to be a soccer player to know what it feels like to work toward a goal. We set goals at work, at school, at home, and with family and friends. Any time you think about plans for the future, you are setting a goal. One way to make sure your goal is set up for success is to create and follow a SMART goal. This acronym means:

S-Specific. A goal must be crystal clear to you. You must envision the outcome.
M-Measurable. Determine a number that tells you when your outcome is achieved.
A-Actionable. Choose 3-5 action steps that you must take to reach your goal.
R-Relevant. Identify how your goal aligns with your personal mission values.
T-Time bound. Set a timeline to create a sustainable outcome.

Let’s explore an example of one way we can set a SMART goal.

Scenario: In the spirit of healthy living, you just had your annual check-up (congrats) and your health care provider recommended that you drink more water. Let’s set a SMART goal that will help you make this goal a reality.



Instead of setting the broad goal of drinking more water, we have to think about what our outcome looks like when we achieve our goal. Let’s say, specifically, we want to drink enough water every day to meet our healthcare provider’s recommendations.


We have to pick a number that tells us when our outcome is achieved. The Institute of Medicine’s recommendation for your daily adequate intake for water is about 12 cups per day for adult men, and for adult women is about 9 cups. So, your specific goal might be to drink 9 (or 12) cups of water each day. 1 Please note, this measure includes ALL fluids you drink in a day.


What actions need to be taken in order to reach the goal? Let’s identify three steps we might take to make this goal a reality:
1. Increase access: Buy a water bottle that you can carry with you throughout your day
2. Make it pleasant: Keep chilled water available, and have lemon slices, herbal tea, or frozen fruit available to add a little flavor to your water
3. Trigger your action: Set a phone reminder to drink water throughout the day


You must remind yourself why you have this goal. Make a short list of why you want to drink more water. When the going gets tough, remind yourself that you are aligned with your personal values. For example:
• My healthcare provider says it will make me healthier
• Staying hydrated might make me think more clearly
• Drinking water might prevent me from drinking sugary drinks


Choose a timeframe that allows for sustainable change. If you only drink sugary drinks, it might take a couple of months for your taste buds to get used to drinking only water. So, you might want to start with replacing one drink per day with water, and increase it gradually each week. Let’s say that your commitment will begin today, and you will reach 100% of your goal in 8 weeks.

After completing the SMART goal process, the goal looks like this:

In 8 weeks, I will drink 9 cups (or 12 cups) of water every day. This aligns with my mission for healthy living.

To act on this goal I will:
1. Buy a water bottle that I can carry with you throughout my day
2. Keep chilled water, lemon slices, herbal tea, and frozen fruit available
3. Set a phone reminder to drink water throughout the day

What are some examples of goals you have set up for success? Give us examples by commenting on this post.

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  1. Calculation derived from the assumption that 80% of fluid intake will come from beverages. Men: 3.7 liters total x 80% from beverages x 4.22675 cups per liter = 12.5112 cups Women: 2.7 liters total x 80% from beverages x 4.22675 = 9.1298 cups. Source: Institute of Medicine Dietary Reference Intakes: Water, Potassium, Sodium, Chloride, and Sulfate. Found online at: http://www.iom.edu/Reports/2004/Dietary-Reference-Intakes-Water-Potassium-Sodium-Chloride-and-Sulfate.aspx