It’s safe to say that most of us want to be healthier. It’s how we go about becoming healthier that can be challenging. Setting goals that are realistic can help. If you’re not meeting your goals, it’s probably not because you’re not trying. It may be because of the goals themselves. Let’s talk about how setting goals can affect whether you achieve them.

First, what makes a goal a goal?

Simply put, Merriam-Webster defines a goal as the end toward which an effort is directed.1 A goal is where you aim to go.

Why set a goal?

Goals are like a road map that can get you to where you want to be. Like we mentioned earlier, most of us want to be healthier, but this takes action. And motivation drives action. Think of motivation as what fuels you on your journey to reach your goal.

What’s your motivation?

Say you want to lose 10 pounds. Why? Is it to fit into an old pair of jeans? Is it to put less pressure on your joints? Really think about the reason. Then remember your why to keep you moving forward.

Need help finding your why? Ask yourself what you value. What inspires you? Who inspires you? Really understanding who you are and how you view health can make a big difference. If you’re not sure where to start with your self-discovery or just want to bounce some ideas off someone else, try our mental health support.

Talk with a licensed therapist

Try using the S.M.A.R.T.2 method to set goals

S.M.A.R.T. breaks down the anatomy of a goal into five steps: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound. Try setting your goal by working through each step:

1. Make it specific
What do you want to accomplish by setting this goal? Be as specific as you can. Maybe instead of setting a goal to lose weight, you can set a goal based on how you will do this. The goal could be “I will walk 30 minutes a day, five days a week for two months.”

2. Make it measurable
Decide how you will measure your progress and results. With the example of losing 10 pounds, weighing yourself weekly would be your measurement. Then set a time you will reach your goal by (see No. 5). “I will lose 10 pounds in 60 days.”

3. Make it attainable
If your goal is realistic for you, you will have a better chance of achieving it. It’s good to have a big goal, but you may have a better chance of reaching it if you break it into smaller goals. For example, your big goal could be to run a marathon. A smaller goal could be to start running 15 minutes more a day for a week. Whatever your goal is, make sure it’s challenging enough to get you results, but doable enough for you to act on it.

4. Make it relevant
Set a goal that fits your specific needs. Make sure it’s right for you as an individual. This is where thinking about your why comes into play. Your goal should fit your purpose for your life and who you want to be.

5. Make it time-bound
Give yourself a timeline for your goal. Instead of setting a goal to work out more this year, set it to work out five days each week by the end of a month’s time.

See S.M.A.R.T. put into practice

Here are a few examples of goals set using the S.M.A.R.T. method:

Example 1:

  • Specific: I will spend more time outdoors every week for the month of March.
  • Measurable: I will go outside at least 15 minutes a day for the first week and then for 30 minutes a day for the following three weeks.
  • Attainable: I live in Southern California where the weather is mostly dry and warm during March.
  • Relevant: Spending time in nature can help me improve physically and mentally.
  • Time-bound: I will start this goal March 1 and end it March 31.

Example 2:

  • Specific: I will learn how to better manage my fear of flying so I can travel.
  • Measurable: I will fly with my family for vacation in May while feeling more at peace.
  • Attainable: I know I can do this because I have flown successfully for years. I will also get better coping strategies with professional help.
  • Relevant: It’s important that I fly without feeling anxious because my family wants to travel. And I want to enjoy time with them.
  • Time-bound: I will be able to fly without worry in May for our family vacation.

Lastly, when setting goals remember to…

Find joy in the journey

Try not to wait to enjoy life until after you’ve met your goal. There will always be new goals to set and achieve! Reward yourself along the way. Practice mindfulness to be in each moment.

And good health is a story you will spend your whole life writing. We have the tools and support to help you every step of the way. Sign in or create an account now. Not sure if you’re eligible for Teladoc Health?

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Keep up the goal work

Once you’ve accomplished your health goal, you’ll want to maintain your progress. You may increase your chances of living a long and healthy life by adopting healthy habits.3 Continue to remember why you set and achieved your goal. Keep yourself interested by adding variety to your routine.

If you get off track, just get right back on without guilt. Every step you take to maintain your healthy lifestyle is a good step.

Keep up with preventive care

Staying on top of your well-being can help you continue to set and meet more health goals. Ask your primary care doctor if there are any health screenings you need to get.

If you don’t already have a primary care doctor, consider finding one. Our Primary Care services make it easy.

Before you start any new exercise routine, talk to your doctor to make sure it’s safe.

Learn more about Primary Care

Eat well to stay on top of your goals. Boost your immunity with 5 superfoods.

Published February 15, 2024


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