Setting SMART Goals

January 18, 2024

With the start of the new year, many use this time as an opportunity to start working towards new health and wellness goals. Whether it’s drinking more water (out of that brand new Stanley, perhaps?) or training for a marathon, the old saying “A goal without a plan is a wish” comes to mind. Whether you are trying to keep the positive momentum going, or are already feeling those healthy habits starting to slip, setting SMART goals can help you keep on track and accomplish your goals in the weeks and months ahead.


what is a smart goal?

SMART is an acronym used for goal setting and project planning that can be easily used in your personal life as well. SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. When you put the time into making a SMART health and wellness goal, you are making an investment in yourself and planning for success.


Specific: We often make our resolutions during the general craziness of the holiday season, without really sitting down and thinking about what those goals mean. By taking the time to make a specific goal — for instance, “eat one serving of vegetables a day” instead of “eat better” — you are giving yourself a much better framework to build off of and plan for.


Measurable: What’s the point of setting a goal if you don’t know when you achieve it? Creating a measurable often goes hand in hand with making that goal specific and allows you to have a clear and defined finish line (pun intended).


Attainable: Having a big, long-term goal is great but you also want to set smaller, more immediate goals to help keep you motivated along the way. For example, if you haven’t been running recently but would love to finish a 10K this year, set some smaller goals to work on along the way, like “running a mile without stopping by March 31st” and “completing a 5K by June 30th” before tackling that 10K Turkey Trot in November.


Relevant: Make sure there is a “why” behind your goal and that you aren’t choosing a goal based on a TikTok trend or social media post. Your goal should be YOUR goal and knowing why you want to achieve it will help you stay focused when it gets hard to stay on track. Taking the time to meal plan to help your family eat more nutritious and affordable meals can help keep you on track when the last thing you want to do is spend another afternoon in the kitchen.


Timely: Setting a goal with the plan to do it sometime this year is an easy way to find yourself in December with “Run a 10K” still on your to-do list. Taking the time to think about and plan your goals should include making a plan for when you want to accomplish it by. Speaking from experience, make sure you include a Plan B for when Plan A gets thrown off track by a PCS move, TAD or deployment, because we know how military life can be.


Once you’ve taken the time to create your SMART goal, take everything you’ve written down and put it somewhere you can see it, schedule time into your day to put your plan into action and write your goals – big and small – on your calendar. By writing it down, knowing your why, and creating a plan, you’ve set yourself up for success in the year ahead.

About the Author

Erin Kahn

Senior Manager of Programs
Erin Kahn is an active duty Marine Corps spouse with a background in non-profit program and product management.
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