In the past, we were told that setting S.M.A.R.T goals was the key to successful change. SMART thinking offered guidelines for creating goals that were Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.
For example, someone whose physician recommended losing 20 pounds might set this smart goal: “I want to lose 20 pounds (specific and measurable – and hopefully achievable – and certainly relevant in terms of being healthy) in the next 6 months (time-bound).”
SMART goals were thought to be the best alternative to goals that were vague. An example of a vague goal would be, “I want to get fit this year.”
Newer thinking is that “strategy goals” work even better than SMART goals. With a strategy goal, we focus on learning (and doing) concrete strategies and skills that will help us reach our goals, rather than focusing on a specific outcome. When you adopt a strategy goal, you can experience success regardless of the length of time it takes you to reach your outcome goal, because the focus isn’t on the outcome. You’re being successful so long as you’re carrying out the strategies and moving towards your outcome goal. These kinds of goals can improve confidence, self-efficacy, optimism, and hopefulness.
An example of a strategy goal would be, “Each week I’ll implement one new strategy to help me eat better.” For example:
- During week 1, I’ll plan a week’s worth of menus at the weekend, do the grocery shopping, and cook a bunch of chicken breasts so they’re ready for dinner each night during the week.
- During week 2, I’ll start keeping a food diary.
- During week 3, I’ll start drinking 6-8 cups of water each day.
- During week 4, I’ll take a healthy salad to work for lunch each day.
- During week 5, I’ll start experimenting with new foods by trying one new vegetable each week and learning different ways of preparing it.
- During week 6, I’ll start having one meatless day per week – instead, I’ll experiment with beans, nuts, and fish.
Do you get the idea?
Here’s another example of a strategy goal: “Each week, I’ll implement one strategy to help me get a better night’s sleep”.
- During week 1, I’ll stop eating and drinking at least 2 hours before bedtime.
- During week 2, I’ll read in bed instead of being on the computer or watching TV before trying to go to sleep.
- During week 3, I’ll work on moving electronic devices with LED lights out of the bedroom.
- During week 4, I’ll start getting into bed at least 7-8 hours before my alarm goes off in the morning.
- During week 5, I’ll start listening to a meditation tape before trying to go to sleep.
Now, it’s your turn.
Describe your strategy goal here:
Your strategy goal:
- During week 1, I’ll….
- During week 2, I’ll….
- During week 3, I’ll….
- During week 4, I’ll….
- During week 5, I’ll….
Are you ready to finally figure out how to keep the weight off for good – no matter where you currently are on your weight loss journey? Check out my time-limited 1:1 customized individual coaching offer here:
With your continued health in mind,
Doreen Lerner, Ph.D.
Director, Institute for Lifelong Weight Management
Creator, The Full Mind Weigh® to Lifelong Weight Management
The Institute for Lifelong Weight Management provides education and training. The Full Mind Weigh® is strictly an educational program and is not a substitute for medical or psychological evaluation or treatment. If you think you may be suffering from an eating disorder, please consult with a qualified mental health professional who is trained to evaluate and treat eating disorders.