fruit, veggies, weights, tape measure

It’s that time of year where the guilt around what you ate at the holidays is in full swing and New Year’s resolutions have begun. Although most of us start the year with the best intentions to become a healthier person, many fail to reach or maintain their resolution goal.

The key to success is to set SMART goals, according to UC Davis Health registered dietitian Tiana Carey. She walks us through what it means to be SMART:

Specific: Be as clear and concise as possible when setting goals. Solely stating “I want to be healthier” doesn’t provide a specific goal. What does healthier mean to you?

Measurable: Provide a quantifiable indicator to determine if you have met your goal.

Attainable/Achievable: Be realistic! If you don’t currently eat vegetables regularly, don’t make your measure of success eating 5 servings a day. The same goes for reducing your intake of something that you regularly consume. Don’t go from zero to 60 or slam on the breaks. Try to limit the number of resolutions – if you set too many goals, you may get overwhelmed and not reach any.

Relevant: Check in with yourself and look at the big picture. Answer these questions (honestly): What is important to you? Is this resolution a priority to you? Is this important to your overall life goals?

Timely: Indicate a target finish date. For many New Year’s resolutions, the end date is the end of the year, but you can always set a sooner end time. Maybe you set a shorter end date initially to check in and assess if the goal continues to be SMART.

Examples of SMART goals:

  • Consume at least two vegetables daily, five days a week
  • Exercise for 30 minutes three times each week
  • Drink two liters of water daily

Along with setting SMART goals, it’s also important to remember that no one is perfect. Just because you didn’t obtain your goal today doesn’t mean you have to give up. Tomorrow is a new day.

This can also apply if you got a late start and this goal isn’t a New Year’s resolution. We should be setting goals throughout the year and re-evaluating as needed to ensure that the goals we have set for ourselves are SMART.

Learn more with these nutrition education materials