Change “I think I can” to “I know I can,” to reach your health improvement goals

By Loretta Musholt RN, BSN, CDE

Do you set goals for your health improvement?   If so, do you ever find yourself getting frustrated because you never seem to reach them? Sometimes we start out on fire, but then the fire (sometimes quickly) smolders and dies, especially if we don’t soon get the results we were hoping for, and we end up feeling frustrated and defeated. The sad part is that usually when this happens, there HAVE been changes for the better, but they go unnoticed and unappreciated because they were overshadowed by the “I didn’t reach my goal” sentiment. Many times, the goal was too lofty, and the change didn’t seem to happen fast enough.

It takes TIME to reach a goal, to change a habit. Baby steps.   Let me repeat that, baby steps, baby steps!   And be S.M.A.R.T. with your goal setting!   Setting S.M.A.R.T. goals can set you on the right path to help you actually reach our goals. Making and reaching small goals can be the fuel your fire needs to keep you pressing forward. S.M.A.R.T. stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. Let’s take a look at each one of these, using a goal of weight loss as an example.


Setting S.M.A.R.T Goals


What do you want to achieve, when, and for how long? For the example: My goal is to lose 25 pounds in 3 months, and keep it off by continuing the changes I made to reach the goal. This is more specific than “I want to lose weight”.


Can it be objectively measured regularly, so you know if you are on track? For example: 25 pounds in 3 months is about 2 pounds per week. Weigh weekly and track progress on a calendar or app. Seeing your success will spur you on to the next week!


Set the bar to where you can realistically reach it. Do you have the time and resources? For example: The general recommendation is to lose ½ to 2 pounds per week. Realistically you may decide on one pound per week.  That is resetting the goal to 12 pounds, which is perhaps more achievable. This is where S.M.A.R.T. goal setting can help to avoid frustration if the goal is too lofty.


This is your “why”, which can help to keep you focused and motivated. Is it meaningful for you right now? Is it something YOU want to do, or is it because you feel you “should”, or someone else wants you to do it? Maybe it is envisioning how you will look and feel when you reach your goal.


Set a reasonable deadline for this baby step goal. This will help you to see early on if what you are doing is working or not. For the example: in 3 months.

Lastly, once you successfully reach your goal, then move on to something else, or to the next step with your current goal (losing another 12 pounds for example).


Moving Forward

Why not take some time this week to reflect on what you would like to see as an improvement in your health, and your “why”?   Then make a S.M.A.R.T. goal, and you are on your way!   Don’t forget to find someone to give you support and encouragement, everybody needs a little help to stay on track!

If you don’t succeed, try again. Remember, baby steps. Expect setbacks. To quote Arianna Huffington: “Failure isn’t the opposite of success, it is part of success”. Learn from what doesn’t work, and try again!

Until next time, enjoy your journey!