Healthy Living in the North

Tales from the Man Cave: Motivation

Family walking outside. Text of the SMART goal acronym overlaid on picture

SMART goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. For Jim, adding evaluation and repetition makes goals SMARTER!

I woke up this morning with a certain melancholy.

We all have days where we feel less motivated and more melancholic. As I sat and struggled to even begin to write, I suddenly knew that I had found my topic completely by chance: motivation.

Everything requires motivation and there is even a whole realm of psychology dedicated to it.

  • How do I make healthier choices?
  • How do I begin to eat healthier?
  • How do I get myself to move more often?

These are tough questions to tackle. I know that if I get up today, there is a good chance I will just continue on with my old habits. For lots of us, change is just not that easy.

I was looking for something different and I found it in SMART goals. SMART goals support healthy lifestyle changes by being Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. For me, I want my goals to be SMARTER, so I added Evaluate and Repeat.

Here are Jim’s SMARTER goals. Come on, Jim, let’s give it a try!

  • Make it specific, like walking for 20 minutes each day. Choose your desired change and set a goal for yourself.
  • Your goal needs to be measurable so you can see progress. Make a little chart. Put it somewhere you can tick off your progress.
  • Make sure it’s something achievable and that you can do it. Your goal might be to run the Boston marathon but you need to crawl before you can walk.
  • It’s very important that your goal is relevant to your main desire. Walking 20 minutes a day could be a relevant goal for the desire to run a marathon.
  • This leads us to the next piece: set an end date for your goal. Make sure you don’t sabotage yourself here. This is also a very important evaluation date.

Your goal should be realistic and be achievable within a certain time frame. This is a key element. Set small goals in small time periods.

In my example, I would say if the overall goal is to run a marathon, the specific goal might be to walk 20 minutes every day for three weeks. That’s all – but that’s also SMART.

For your goal to be SMARTER, the next step is to evaluate your progress. This is perhaps the most important part. Often when we do this, we may become disappointed. We may feel like we only achieved half our goal if we were only able to walk on certain days. If that was the case, I say: “Great! It was a success then. You moved!”

Your evaluation should accommodate this new information. Finally, you need to repeat the process.

If your first goal was not as realistic as you had hoped, set a more realistic goal, such as walking 20 minutes every other day. Create a new chart and tick those boxes. When you have achieved and evaluated your new goal, set another one and push the bar slightly higher than before.

Now it’s 25 minutes of walking every other day. Soon you will be jogging.

You can always shoot for the moon and land among the stars, but be sure to keep one solid, SMARTER foot on earth.

Good luck.

Jim Coyle

About Jim Coyle

Jim is a tobacco reduction coordinator with the men’s health program, and has a background in psychiatry and care of the elderly. In former times, Jim was director of care at Simon Fraser Lodge and clinical coordinator at the Brain Injury Group. He came to Canada from Glasgow, Scotland 20 years ago and, when not at work, Jim plays in the band Out of Alba and spends time with his family.

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