Goal Setting

Setting a heart-healthy goal

  • Goal setting is an important part of your heart-healthy journey.
  • The first step in setting a heart-healthy goal is to ask yourself what you would like to achieve. Once you have a vision of what you would like to achieve, we recommend writing it down.
  • There may be many things you would like to work on. It is easiest to select one goal to work on at a time.
  • Once you have thought about a goal you would like to work towards, the next step is to ask yourself how important is this goal to you. Successful goal setting requires that the goal is important to the person setting and working towards it. Research tells us that, on a scale of 0 to 10, the importance of a goal should be greater than 7. If your rating is less than 7, it may be necessary to reconsider the goal you have set.
  • The next step is to ask yourself how confident you are that you will succeed in achieving this goal. Research tells us that, on a scale of 0 to 10,  your confidence of achieving your goal should be greater than 7. If you rate yourself less than 7 on the confidence scale, you may want to start by setting a smaller, more achievable goal.
  • Once you have a goal in mind that is important to you, and that you feel confident you can achieve, it is time to make it a SMART goal.

SMART goals

  • SMART is an acronym used when setting goals. SMART stands for:
    • Specific: When setting a goal, you will need to be specific about what you want to accomplish. Use an action plan to determine the details of your goal,
    • Measurable: It is important to have a way to track your progress and to determine you have reached your goal. Ask yourself, how you will know when you have reached your goal?
    • Achievable: This means asking yourself if the goal that you have set is reasonable and realistic for you to achieve. Ask yourself, are you able to safely achieve this goal?
    • Relevant: This step is about ensuring that the goal is relevant to your heart-healthy vision.
    • Timely: What is your time frame for reaching this goal? Without a timeframe, you may not be as motivated to complete the goal in a timely manner. Ask yourself, do you have enough time for this goal? Too much time?
  • Once you have considered the SMART acronym, it is now time to build an action plan.

Making an action plan

  • An action plan provides the details and acts as a framework for achieving your goal.
  • When creating an action plan, ask yourself the following questions:
    • What am I going to do differently this week to work towards my goal?
    • When am I going to do it?
    • Where am I going to do it?
    • How much/how often will I do it?
  • It is important to note that you can always re-evaluate your action plan and adjust as necessary to help you achieve your goal.

Planning for obstacles

  • A set back of your exercise program, eating goals, or stress management skills can happen when we:
    • Get sick (from a minor cold to a major health condition) or have an injury
    • Experience a major life change
    • Travel or go on holiday
    • Experience a stressful event (ie. moving, retiring, a death in the family)
    • Lose sight of what motivated us to make this lifestyle change in the first place
  • It is important to allow yourself to fully recover from being ill, enjoy your holidays, and cope appropriately with a stressful event; however, once you are back to your regular routine, it is time to get back to your healthy lifestyle.
  • If you lost sight of what motivated you to make a healthy change in the first place, try reflecting on the following things:
    • What does your “best self” look and feel like?
    • What types of things would your “best-self” be doing?
    • What does the future look like for your “best-self”?

Keeping on track

  • It is important to review your progress weekly. Keeping a record of your progress is a great way to increase accountability and is also a great tool for reflection.
  • Make sure you are looking at both the positive and the negative when you are reviewing your goals.
  • If your week did not go as planned, ask yourself, “what went well” and “what went wrong?”
  • When considering what went wrong, you may need to reflect on your action plan, try another idea, or ask for support. Your Exercise Therapist is here to help you with your goals.

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