When you set a goal, it is crucial you make it as detailed as possible and not leave it vague. Let’s look at what happens when a goal is vague. Say for example, I have the goal: “Next month I will drink more water.” I intend to do something about this. But without the tools for how to achieve it – I find I can’t define it. Also it will be unclear when it has been achieved. Then, I would never feel I accomplished what I set out to do, and that can be discouraging.
There is a popular tool anyone can use to set and achieve their goals. It is called the SMART goal. If you’ve worked with us at EPIC for any amount of time, you’re probably well familiar with this acronym. The acronym is as follows:
T: Time bound
I won’t go into details of how all these pieces play out, but I had always thought the ‘A’ and ‘R’ were redundant. Perhaps the ‘R’ was placed there to help make it a more memorable acronym, instead of a “SMRT” or “SMAT” goal…I don’t know. What is interesting is, other times when I have looked up this acronym, I have read differing thoughts and opinions. To be honest, I don’t know which one is officially the “correct” one. For example, I have read the ‘A’ to mean “assigned (i.e. tasked to someone)”, or ‘R’ to mean “relevant”.
When I read ‘R’ might mean “relevant” it really resonated with me. To me, that makes sense. And it is such an important piece to remind ourselves whenever we create goals. We have to remember, “Why does this goal even matter for me? Why bother doing it? How is this relevant to my long-term goal(s)?”
We often know, subconsciously, why we want to change ourselves and our habits, but it’s so easy to get lost in the details, the day-to-day, and in the struggle of it that we forget why we bother in the first place. Sometimes putting into words (or into writing) what the point is – the relevance – of your goal can help a lot. That way, if you’re encountering resistance along the road to meeting your goal, you can be re-inspired over and over again with it. Said another way, when we remember the purpose behind everything we think and do, it can strengthen our resolve. Interestingly, it may even help you re-evaluate from time to time, “Does this goal still make sense for me to pursue, or do I need to change course to have it better align with my long-term (big picture) goal(s)?”
I’ll end with a brief illustration. Let’s say you wish to work on your health because your energy is low. It affects being able to keep up with your kids and be there for them. Also you want to pursue your passions and hobbies. You know that things like diet, hydration, exercise, stress-reduction, and sleep are all important components to help you feel better and achieve these goals. So you decide to start by walking 20 minutes a day during your lunch break at work.
Alright, so why is walking relevant for you in light of your goals of being able to keep up with your kids, passions, hobbies, etc.? Perhaps it may be because you notice your legs and joints feel less stiff and you feel less stress by taking a break away from your desk at work. Those two things alone help you be more present and focused while having slightly better mobility without harming your joints. Those two things help you move closer to being able to keep up and be present with your kids.
As you can see, defining your ‘R’ doesn’t have to be super deep and profound. You just want to make sure you can connect the dots between your SMART goal (and any goal for that matter) and your big-picture goal. When we see how everything about our health interconnects with our lives, the more purposeful and meaningful they become. And the more meaningful they become, the more motivating they are. Who doesn’t want that?
Wishing you success with your goals!
Lead health coach Dan Tribley
EPIC Functional Medicine Center