Setting S.M.A.R.T. Targets
If you want to look and feel different it’s time to make a plan. It’s a bit like setting smart goals and targets at school, college or in a work interview. You know that if you set yourself a target and write it down you are more likely to reach it. Ask yourself the questions below:
1. What do I want to achieve?
You need to set goals, and keep it simple, for example 'I will drink water instead of fizzy drinks everyday for a month'.
Make sure the goals are S.M.A.R.T, in other words they are:
Specific: e.g. 'I will drink water instead of fizzy drinks'
Measurable: measurable goals help you to see what progress you're making. So, to use the example above, you can measure this at the end of the month to see if you have achieved it.
Achievable: you're much more likely to keep to goals that are achievable. Small goals equal progress, and, once achieved, you can gradually build up to a main goal e.g. to eat less fat might involve lots of 'mini-goals' on the way, such as switching to semi-skimmed milk, or to limit chocolate to just one small serving a day.
Relevant: goals should be relevant to you. You're the expert on what you like, need and want, so choose goals that work for you.
Time-specific: set yourself a time scale for achieving your goal. If you're changing habits of a lifetime, this will take time, so allow yourself weeks, rather than days to achieve goals.
2. What do I need to do to achieve my goal/target?
Break it down into small steps. For example:
I will drink water instead of fizzy drinks:
- Buy a funky water bottle.
- Remember to take it to school with me everyday.
- Avoid the drinks machine.
- Ask adults not to buy fizzy drinks.
- Ask mates not to tempt me.
3. How will I know when I have succeeded?
If you have set a SMART goal it will be easy to tell when you have achieved it e.g. you will have avoided fizzy drinks for a month. Remember if you slipped up a few times - try not to get hung up on this - the important thing is have you succeeded overall?
4. How will I reward myself when I have succeeded?
It’s important to recognise and reward your successes. For example use saved money from not buying fizzy drinks to buy a new T shirt or a new baseball cap.
5. What could go wrong? What will I do if it does?
If you plan for this then you should be more able to deal with it. For example what happens if I forget my water bottle? After a little thought you might decide to keep a spare in your locker or find out where the water fountain is.
6. Should I set more than one goal?
You might want to set both food and activity goals as these are more likely to work together to help you achieve a better body shape.
Remember to find your support team. These are people who can help you along the way. Will they be family, friends, trainers, health professionals, tutors or a combination?
Monitor your progress. Keep a food and activity diary to see how you're doing. This means writing down what you eat each day and how much activity like walking to school or riding a bike you do and for how long. Making a note of what you eat and how active you are right at the start will help you to decide what changes you could make.