By: Dr. Nancy Husarik

Each year, many people have the same New Year’s resolution – to better their health both physically and mentally. When my patients and I discuss how to stick to their goals relating to health behavior changes, I usually recommend SMART Goals: – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

Smart: Saying you are going to exercise more or change your diet is quite vague, making it hard to know what the objective of the goal is. Be specific with what you want to do. Use action words when describing what your goals are, such as, “I will go for a 30-minute walk each day” or “I am going to eat five servings of fruits and vegetables each day”.

Measurable: You should be able to measure your goals. If you are not able to track progress on each goal, it is easy to become discouraged. Use a unit of measure to set your goal, for example, how many minutes you will walk each day or how often you will meditate.

Achievable: Set your goals to be achievable for you. If you are just getting back into exercising, don’t set a goal that is out of reach for you. For example, while the physical activity guidelines for Americans recommend 150 minutes of activity per week, this may be an unreasonable goal for a sedentary, deconditioned patient to start out doing. Make sure that whatever your goal is, it is realistic for you and what is available to you.

Relevant: Your goal should be relevant to what you want to accomplish. Is the goal going to evoke the change you are hoping to achieve? For example, if you are looking to lose weight, it may be better to focus on time spent exercising rather than time spent meditating.

Time-bound: The goal you are hoping to achieve should have a target date of when you would like to start and when you want to complete your goal. This also makes it easier to assess your goals later. If you are not able to complete your goal in the time you set for it, then you can review and reassess the goal.

Setting SMART goals is the first step to achieving what you hope to accomplish in the new year. Be persistent, be realistic, and don’t give up. Best wishes on meeting your goals and a happy new year.


Dr. Nancy Husarik is a provider at Elliot Pediatrics and Primary Care at Raymond.