Setting Goals for Better Health

The tradition of New Year’s resolutions provides an excellent opportunity to set goals to improve your health. Identifying your top health needs and setting realistic goals are important steps to take for successful behavior change. Follow the steps and tips below to create the new you in the New Year.

Step 1: Self-Assessment

Before you set goals, assess your lifestyle by tracking your daily food and fluid intake, exercise, and amount of sleep for one week in a journal. Evaluate your journal and set your goals based on where you may need to make a change. Also, take time to reflect on your last year’s goals; re-evaluate the changes you were able to make and maintain, and recognize any goals you may not have successfully implemented.

Step 2: Set Goals

Setting SMART goals is a proven way to effectively establish and attain goals.

SMART goals are:







S: I want to walk 5 miles every week.

M: Using the GPS on my smart phone, I will record the miles I walk daily.

A: Each week, I can schedule 3 days for a walk in my neighborhood or at the gym.

R: Walking helps me manage stress and makes me feel energized.

T: After one month, I will review my walking records and increase my goal if I am walking more than 5 miles.

Step 3: Evaluate

Each week, evaluate your progress and update your plan with this progress. Set additional goals only when you are ready.

Common Health Focus Areas:

  • Eating more fruit, vegetables or whole grains
  • Reducing intake of saturated fat or sodium
  • Weight loss
  • Increasing exercise
  • Sleeping 7–9 hours per night
  • Quit smoking

Goal Setting Tips

  • Set only a few goals at a time. Taking on too many at once is more likely to result in failure.
  • Make your goals specific and well-defined, such as “I want to lose 10 lbs and maintain it by this time next year.” You should be able to measure your success in terms of dates, numbers, or pounds.
  • Set achievable goals. Ask yourself if your goal is realistic. Start small and if you’ve achieved your goal sooner than expected, add to your goal.
  • Make sure your goal has a realistic starting and end point whether you make a short, medium or long-term goal. Give it enough time to avoid feeling discouraged. Changing behaviors and forming new habits takes time and the amount of time it takes may be different for everyone.

For more information: Watch Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ video on goal setting

Source: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics