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S.M.A.R.T. Goal Setting Principles

Living with heart failure means that we constantly have to monitor many aspects of our lives – how much salt are we eating, how much fluid are we drinking, how much exercise are we getting, what is our stress level, what is our weight like, etc. With so many aspects to monitor comes many goals.

S.M.A.R.T. goals

Through my career in HR, I became familiar with S.M.A.R.T goal-setting principles. Take a look and see if any of these principles can help you break your goals down into smaller and more manageable steps to make things more achievable.

Your nurse or nurse practitioner might even be familiar with S.M.A.R.T principles and can help you set health-related S.M.A.R.T goals. Think about this – ‘the more defined a pathway is, the easier it is to follow!’1


Unless a goal is clear AND specific, you won’t know where to focus to achieve it. A few things to consider when thinking about specificity are what you want to accomplish, which parties are involved (like a dietician, exercise coach, etc.), and which resources are limits are involved.1


It is important to have a goal be measurable to track progress. This feels good and can help prevent you from cheating. What is measured is what is improved! Something to think about is being as precise as possible. For example, if stress reduction is a goal, maybe make your goal 10 minutes of yoga or meditation per day instead of just saying ‘do some yoga every week.’1


A goal needs to be realistic and attainable. It needs to be a stretch goal, but still possible, or else you will give up. Think about whether you are aiming too high or too low. Make sure that you are also set up for success. If you don't have time, supplies, or the right location, make adjustments.1

If you say that you want to reduce stress and will start with 10 minutes of yoga per day, do you have access to a yoga mat and/or a class? If not, maybe a short walk or deep breathing is a better first step to reducing your stress.1


If you are not inspired by your goals or they do not make sense to you, you will not do it! Every step of the goal must also make sense.1


Think about this as something that is trackable so you can monitor your progress over time. Consider writing your efforts down in a journal or tracking them on an app so you can see how far you've come. Also, consider a time frame that is not too far off in the future. Committing to walking after dinner for 20 minutes 4 times a week instead of getting fit at some point in the future provides a reasonable schedule that you can hold yourself accountable to.1,2

Share a story about a time you successfully set and achieved a goal!

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Heart-Failure.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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