"Set Specific Measurable Attainable Recorded Timely Goals"
Set SMART goals and reach them. (For Spectrum Health Beat)

This is the year, right? 2019 will be different, better.

You’ve promised yourself, made a commitment to change and you’ll finally get on track with your goals to exercise more, eat less and do all in your power to shun stress.

Jill Graybill, RD, a dietitian with Spectrum Health, said it’s important to exercise “mental homework” before you step toward change.

Graybill said implementing new health habits reminds her of a photograph she saw of an unfinished bridge in South Africa.

“The highway bridge was built in the 1970s and sits to this day uncompleted in a busy intersection of the town,” Graybill said. “One thought as to why the bridge was never finished is that because of poor planning, the bridge would not meet up with the other side.”

Government officials there decided it was too expensive to remove or fix and isn’t really needed.

Her point? If things had been thought through ahead of time, the project may have been successful instead of abandoned.

Graybill said the same applies to healthy changes in your life.

“So many people set out with good intentions, measurable goals and the right tools, but we forget to think through why we want to be healthier, exactly how we will do it and what we will do when stumbling blocks occur,” she said. “We start a goal without the proper planning, like the bridge in Cape Town.”

Why do you want to be healthier and how will you accomplish it?

Graybill’s 6 steps to success:

1. Do some soul-searching

Research shows if we set goals out of self desire versus obligation, we will be more likely to succeed. Do you want to be healthier because your doctor told you to or because you are excited to feel more energetic? The reason why is critical to success.

2. Write it down

Put your goal and the reason why in writing and put it where you will see it every day. During those times when you are tempted, you will be reminded of exactly why you should not give in.

3. Make a plan

Think through how you will meet your goal, what will need to change to make it work, and what has stopped you in the past.

Look at those past times when you were successful and build on those. For those times when you failed, consider how this time you will do it differently.

4. Be real with yourself

Rate your confidence level for meeting your goal on a scale of 1 to 10 with one being not confident at all and 10 being very confident.

If your score is seven or above, then you are ready to meet your goal. If your score is six or below, your goal may be too challenging.

5. Be prepared for setbacks

Of course, you can’t plan for everything, so know there will be bumps in the road, but getting right back on course is what is important. Don’t let a setback derail you from your plan or ultimate goal.

6. Focus on forever goals

Ask yourself if this is something you want to do for life.

Most people can make a change for the short-term, but if you don’t want to do it forever, why start? Choose changes you can stick with.