SMART Goals: Your Key to Success to Improve your Health

Clear goals define a path for health improvement


Resolve to be extraordinary. When choosing to improve your health make a total commitment where failure is not an option. Persist until you succeed because improved health will dramatically change your life. Goals will facilitate this journey by guiding your path.

The power of personal commitment and consistency is documented in chapter three of, Influence, by Robert Cialdini. He cites several examples of corporations and governments that use the power of writing a goal or commitment to improve the likelihood of achieving the desired result. Public commitments are even more likely to be achieved. One study that highlights this is, A Study of Normative and Informational Social Influences Upon Individual Judgment, by Morton Deutsch and Harold B. Gerard.


Goals and Objectives

Jerry Acuff in, Achieve Incredible Things by Setting Goals, published by Delta Point defines goals and objectives as follows:

  • Goal: A brief, clear statement of the outcome you want to achieve.
  • Objectives: Actual steps you take to achieve a goal.


A goal is your target and without it, you have no place to aim and do not know when you have arrived. When improving your health, this may take the form of losing 30 lbs. to achieve a fitness level and the related health benefits. Goals are intended to stretch you and bring out your best self. Subgoals will help you monitor progress towards your final goal. For example, losing 1.5 lbs. / week is considered a subgoal that can be monitored regularly using remote monitoring. The objectives to reach your goal may include exercising for 40 minutes at a METS level of 6, eating two portions of vegetables, and creating a 500-calorie deficit daily.


“You have to set goals that are almost out of reach. If you set a goal that is attainable without much work or thought, you are stuck with something below your true talent and potential.” — Steve Garvey, MLB Hall of Famer


Often a person does not achieve goals because of their limited thinking. You need to create a paradigm shift in your mind. Your coach can see potential in you that you do not see yourself. You want to build a support network that will bring out the greatness in you. Change your thinking to align with the belief that you can attain your stretch goals.


Leveraging Our Creative Mechanism – The Subconscious

In his book, Psycho-Cybernetics: A New Way To Get More Living Out of Life, Dr Maxwell Maltz, who was previously a plastic surgeon, cites many examples of patients whos’ internal feelings and attitudes about themselves would remain unchanged after transformational surgery. He discovered that only an adequate and realistic self-image of oneself results in true satisfaction in life.

Dr. Maltz believes our subconscious can be controlled by our mind and it is called the Creative Mechanism. This mechanism functions based on the goals it receives and participates in their achievement. The goals we give this mechanism are based on your self-image and hence self-image limits what one can accomplish. You are only able to accomplish what you believe. This Creative Mechanism can be steered for success (or failure) providing insight when to pivot, new ideas, and solutions.

As stated by Dr. Maltz, “For imagination sets the goal “picture” which our creative mechanism works on. We act or fail to act, not because of “will,” as is so commonly believed, but because of imagination. … Your nervous system reacts appropriately to what “you” think or imagine to be true.”

Unfortunately, most people underrate themselves. You can use your imagination to see yourself differently and develop an excellent self-image. Creating a paradigm shift in your mind about yourself will lead you to actively improve. Hence, seek your best self and aim high. Worry does nothing but interfere with this process and is unproductive. It is better to relax and let the process work.

I witnessed my subconscious or Creative mechanism at work often. Many times, I was stuck on a problem with no solution in sight. Then when I freed my mind and relaxed with a walk or other activity, I would gain insight into the problem that was previously elusive.


Goal Clarity

Clarity on goal definition will affect your ability to achieve it. Jerry Acuff has the following method to develop great goals: S.M.A.R.T.

  • Specific: Defining your goals with absolute clarity will identify the steps needed to achieve them. With weight loss, a reasonable stretch goal is 20 lbs. over 12 weeks. Once established, set objectives and visualize yourself achieving the goal with proper nutrition and exercise. The visualization helps the subconscious work in your favor and establish a habit. We are better at what we practice.
  • Measurable: Measurements allow prediction of goal achievement and for course-correction if needed. An example of this is monitoring weight. If you established a weekly weight loss subgoal of 1.5 lbs / week but are only achieving 0.5 lbs. / week, then you can course correct by setting a more realistic goal or work harder to achieve the goal you set. Furthermore, seeing your progress to the metrics is hugely motivating when positive.
  • Achievable: Planning is key to setting your goals almost out of reach but stretching what you have done in the past. Determine what you are fully capable of doing and don’t let other peoples’ expectations limit your potential.
  • Realistic: Identify the time, skills and resources needed to obtain the goal. You may need to learn some new skills or meet some new people to help along the way. You can work to achieve your capability even if you don’t have everything you need now. Establishing the goal will help define what needs to be added to your toolbox.
  • Time Sensitive: Creating a sense of urgency and an end point is important.


It is best to set limits on your goals. We all have limited resources and can only focus on achieving a few things at a time. It is recommend limiting your goals to 3-4 at most.


The 4 Rules for Achieving Goals

  1. Write your goals down and share them with family and your coach. Goals that are made public have a higher likelihood of being accomplished. Secondly, goals are easiest to achieve in manageable steps. If goals are unrealistic, it will demotivate, and you will give up. Look at your goals weekly. Establish them in the Sensibly app so you can easily refer to them. Furthermore, your goals should have some degree of flexibility for new information.
  2. Ensure your goals are aligned with your talents and purpose. Leveraging your talents and purpose help you stretch beyond your current level of achievement. Being self-aware and knowing your weaknesses will provide insight into the support you need from others around you. A trusted coach and mentors will draw out your true capability and provide strategic advice to get out of a rut. Remember, tiny tweaks can often make the difference between success and failure.
  3. Don’t let yourself (most likely) nor other people talk you out of your goals. The biggest problem for this is not knowing the way forward. You don’t need to see the entire path to get on it. Your Creative Mechanism will bring ideas and insights when your mind is open to the possibly of accomplishing the goal. If you convince yourself you cannot achieve it, nothing will happen. Other people will say you cannot succeed, but they are only relaying they could not succeed.
  4. Be persistent in the face of failure. You cannot attain success without making mistakes nor having obstacles. When these arise, do not add undue pressure to achieve goals or talk yourself out of them. Instead, use creativity and new ideas to overcome challenges.

Failure means nothing if success eventually comes. – Oliver Goldsmith


Next Steps

  • Set some time aside to define and write down 2 – 4 health improvement goals
  • Use SMART and The 4 Rules to Achieve Goals
  • Visualize achieving your goals, relax and execute
  • Adopt an attitude that failure is to be expected and they will provide life’s greatest learning opportunities. Course corrections may be necessary so look at failures as lessons not failures
  • Monitor progress towards your goals using Sensibly
  • Review your goals weekly and tweak / modify as necessary with new information
  • Understand accomplishing your goal will take hard work and dedication


There is Greatness in You … Be Incredible … Dream Big – Jerry Acuff


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