Developing healthy habits that positively affect the body, mind, and soul are the basics of setting wellness goals. Instead of narrow focus points such as weight loss or dieting, people are developing plans to improve their whole-body wellbeing.
The eventual, desired outcome is to turn each goal into a healthy habit.
As you improve your mental, physical, and spiritual health, your way of life can and will change. To set the goals into habits, you should use the S.M.A.R.T. acronym to meet each objective. We’ll explain more about what that acronym entails and how you can apply it to all areas of your life.
Why Should You Set Wellness Goals?
As we age, our bodies, minds, and lifestyles become burdened with the daily grind.
Stress takes over, and we begin to feel aches and pains in our backs, hips, shoulders, and knees. We have trouble sleeping, and we eat for convenience rather than for nutrition.
We self-medicate with coffee, cigarettes, and alcohol. Exercise becomes something we do not enjoy, so we look for excuses to get out of doing it.
Life gets in the way, and we fail to take care of ourselves. Excuses pile up until we can no longer see ahead of them.
Eventually, we recognize that it’s time to make a change. We might start making changes in the form of New Year’s resolutions, or we might join a gym.
You might decide to juice or start taking yoga. You might even find yourself walking into a church. These are the first steps toward total health.
When you are ready to make changes to your life, you should take those essential steps to the next level and start setting goals. As you work through the goals, your life will begin to look like the one you want to live. As the goals become a part of your life, you will notice that you eat better, sleep better, and feel better. You can also work on your finances and spirituality as you take time to better your entire self.
Being well isn’t about just feeling good physically. It involves the entire body, mind, and spirit. It also involves bettering external aspects of your life, like your work, friendships, and finances. You can also improve your connection to the environment.
Use the S.M.A.R.T. Acronym
Use this acronym for all types of goals, not just those relating to health. Every outcome that you set for yourself should involve all five aspects:
- Specific: The goal should be easy to understand and significant to your life.
- Measurable: You should be able to track the goal.
- Achievable: The goal should be realistic, and you should be able to accomplish it.
- Relevant: The goal should be meaningful to your life.
- Time-based: You should be able to accomplish the goal in a set amount of time.
Let’s set a S.M.A.R.T. goal that will improve your finances since financial health can reduce stress and help you reach your desired outcomes. So, let’s say you want to set a goal to save more money. This on its own, is not a S.M.A.R.T. goal.
It isn’t specific, measurable, or time-based. Instead, you can adjust the target by saying, “I will take $40 out of every paycheck and put it into my savings account for one full year.”
This goal is specific, as you will save $40. It is measurable, as you have a dollar amount and a frequency. Hopefully, it is achievable. If it isn’t, then you should choose an amount that is. It is relevant because the goal will help you save money every paycheck. It is time-based, as you will do this every time you get paid for one year.
Hopefully, this goal will last longer than one year. After the year is over, you can evaluate your finances and possibly save more in the next year.
What Goals Should You Set?
Wellness comes in several forms, and we can set goals to address each. Let’s take a look at different aspects of our daily lives that may benefit from goal-setting.
Most people associate wellness with physical wellbeing, especially with losing weight. Every year, when January 1 rolls around, people set New Year’s resolutions and the most common resolutions are about losing weight and exercising more.
Physical goals often look like New Year’s resolutions, but if you are trying to achieve your best self, you need to look beyond exercising more and losing weight.
Hippocrates said it best: “A wise man ought to realize that health is his most valuable possession.” Wellness includes five key aspects: sleep, nutrition, activity, hygiene, and relaxation. So, if your only goal is to lose weight, you are not addressing your entire physical self.
These are some specific, S.M.A.R.T. physical goals:
- Sleep at least seven hours per night for five nights per week.
- Eat at least one cup of leafy greens during one meal every day.
- Drink 64 ounces of water every day.
- Schedule 30 minutes of exercise at least five days per week.
- Every time it is realistic, take the stairs rather than use an elevator or escalator.
- Floss all of your teeth at every evening tooth brushing session.
- Cut back on carbs by only eating 25 net carbs per day for one month.
Learning to cope with the stress of daily life can be taxing on psychological health. Your overall wellbeing includes your mental state, which is why setting emotional goals is essential.
The goals you set for your emotional health should involve balance, stress, and acceptance. You can learn to manage your reactions to stress and negativity. As you focus on your mental wellbeing, you should pick one behavior that you want to improve. These are some examples of emotional goals:
Recognize when you feel stress, then take five deep breaths before you react.
- Recognize when you feel stress, then take five deep breaths before you react.
- If you have a major decision to make, do not decide until the next morning so you can sleep on it.
- When you are talking to people, listen before you react. To listen well, take a breath before you speak.
Emotional goals can be challenging to set because they do not always follow the rules of the S.M.A.R.T. acronym.
If you are having challenges setting S.M.A.R.T. goals, try C.L.E.A.R. goals that involve collaboration, listening, empathy, adaption, and rewarding success. This acronym fits emotional goal setting correctly, as most people need to work on bettering all five of these psychological needs.
If you can accomplish the C.L.E.A.R. goals, be sure you reward yourself with something you love. Ice cream, anyone?
Money can be one of the most significant stressors in the lives of adults. If you find that you do not know how to manage your money, you could set wellness goals that will improve your finances. These goals could involve more saving and less spending.
Before setting financial plans, it is helpful to assess how much money is coming and going out. This way, you can set realistic short-term and long-term goals. It is a good idea to set goals that are achievable so you can watch your money grow. Your financial goals should be S.M.A.R.T., like saving $40 at every paycheck.
Take a look at these S.M.A.R.T. financial objectives:
- I will budget $75 for groceries each week.
- I want to spend $500 on Christmas gifts this year so I will save $10 per week.
- I want to save $1000 by the end of the year so I will save $40 each paycheck.
Your relationship with the environment is something you can work on, too. The idea is that you improve yourself by showing respect to the world around you. To do this, you become aware of your habits and how they harm the environment. Then, you make changes to better yourself and your connection to the world.
Developing environmental wellness is actually rather simple. You do not need to join Greenpeace or move into a yurt and stop using electricity. Instead, you can focus on things that fit into your lifestyle, like using reusable straws, or turning down paper receipts at the store to accept email receipts. The idea is that you begin to conserve whenever possible.
These are a few things you can do each day to help the environment:
- Turn off lights when you leave a room.
- Buy a programmable thermostat and turn down the heat or the AC at night.
- If possible, ride your bike, walk, or take public transportation instead of driving at least once per week.
- Use reusable containers and stop buying plastic baggies for leftovers.
Wellness goals should be about taking better care of your entire body and everything that affects it, including your mind. As you work on yourself, you should look at ways to expand your intellect. You might choose to read more books or to grow your creativity.
These are a few things you can do to improve your intellect and increase your mental abilities:
- Learn a new language. You can do this during your commute.
- Learn to play an instrument. You can do this on YouTube.
- Do one crossword puzzle each day.
- Set a goal to read one book per month. You can increase the target if that fits with your lifestyle.
With work-related objectives, you can make a difference during those eight hours that you are in the office or on the factory floor. You can improve your occupational health by doing little things each day or each week.
One of the best ways to improve your occupational health is to consider your attitude about work. Your job might not be perfect, but it’s the job you have, so you should figure out how to enjoy it. If you focus on the right things, like the people you work with, and your attitude about your job will improve, and your overall wellbeing will improve, too.
Many people have difficulty finding balance.
With 24-7 access to email, many people are unable to step away from their phones to find time to relax. Professional goals should help people find a balance so they can reduce stress and enjoy life.
Some professional goals can include:
- Turning off your phone for a least 30 minutes when you get home.
- Tidying up your workspace before you leave at the end of the day.
- Eating lunch with someone in a place away from the office.
- Making an appointment with a counselor if you begin to recognize feelings of being burned out.
One of the quickest ways to improve your entire self is to become more social. Friendships can reduce stress, improve your coping skills, and help you make healthy lifestyle choices. If your social life is lacking, you can set goals to improve it.
Adults can find it challenging to make friends, but research shows that social relationships actually make adult lives better in a variety of ways. Instead of spending time looking at a screen, you can improve your experience by spending face-to-face time with real people.
The key to improving your social life is to go to places where you can meet people and develop friendships. These are a few goals that will enhance your social experience:
- Join a book club and go each month.
- Each week after your exercise class, talk to one new person.
- Go out with at least one friend each week.
- Go out for lunch with someone at work at least once per week.
Finding purpose and meaning is the goal of spiritual health. There are a few ways to explore your spirituality so you can develop your entire self. Many of the personal goals involve writing or thinking about profound concepts. Give these spiritual goals a try:
- Journal about your spirituality, focusing on who you are, what your purpose is, and what you value the most.
- Take a yoga class at least once per week.
- Go for meditative walks in the woods. Connecting with nature will enhance your inner spirit. It also helps you get closer to achieving environment wellness, too.
- Look at the world with positivity. Spiritual wellbeing can involve reframing the way you approach challenges as you look more at what you can do rather than what you cannot do.
- Meditate each day. If you do not know how to do this, download a meditation app on your smartphone and let it guide you for five minutes daily.
What Are Popular Goals?
Many people will set goals on January 1, but there is no reason to let the calendar dictate when you decide to better yourself. The desired outcome is to make your world better on the inside and outside.
These are some favorite goals:
- Eat real food
- Unplug from technology
- Exercise 30 minutes every day
- Take the stairs, not an elevator
- Find time to meditate each day
- Write in a journal every day
- Read more books
- Volunteer in your community
- Sleep on a set schedule
- Drink 64 ounces of water daily
- Travel more often
- Wear sunscreen
You might already have these goals in your life. These goals are just a few small ways you can improve your overall health and wellness. When you are ready to start, it is best to choose something manageable that you know you can accomplish. Think of what you want to achieve and get going.
Since there are so many ways to enhance your whole self, you might find that you are juggling several goals at once. You might find it helpful to write down your goals and to manage them in a calendar. A simple checklist can help you track your exercising and water intake.
There are smartphone apps that you can use to record the books you read and the food you eat, too.
Eventually, your desired outcomes can become healthy habits, like applying sunscreen before you leave your home or drinking 64 ounces of water each day. As your goals turn into habits, you can add new ones that make your life healthier like these:
- Find some “me” time each day
- Stretch for 10 minutes each day
- Take naps on the weekends
- Spend 15 minutes organizing your workspace daily
- Join a book club and attend monthly
- Eat at a new restaurant each month
- Walk 6000 steps each day
- Pack your lunch
- Make every Monday a Meatless Monday
- Take a class through your local community ed program
- Go to the library at least once per month
- Use a reusable k-cup in your coffee maker
- Learn to play a new sport (pickleball, golf, softball, etc.)
Create Action Steps
The best way to achieve your goals is to plan how you are going to reach them. Setting a course of action will help you get the job done.
Let’s say you want to develop more flexibility in your body, but it isn’t going to increase just because you want it to happen. You have to create a plan. That plan should be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-specific. The goal of adding flexibility is a tough goal to achieve with the SMART acronym, but it is possible to see flexibility grow.
Some people might choose to become more flexible by going to yoga classes. If this is part of your goal, you should determine how often you plan to go. By going a few times each week, you will see your flexibility improve, but it might be challenging to measure it accurately.
Instead of setting a goal to improve flexibility, you can set a goal to attend yoga classes three times each week. However, if that doesn’t fit into your budget, you can improve your flexibility by setting aside 15 minutes each day to stretch. When you make the goal a SMART goal, you will have a better chance of developing a wellness habit that will improve your life for the long haul.
Budget for Your Day
You should get a daily planner and set aside time to write in it each day. Using a planner can be one of your intellectual goals, as well-organized people use them, so they accomplish tasks throughout the day.
Your target can include checking the planner in the morning and writing in it in the evening. If you already have a full day, your planner time can involve no more than 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes in the evening.
You can also use your planner to take care of your financial goals. You could keep a list of what you spend your money on for a few weeks so you can see exactly where you can cut back. It can be rewarding to watch your bank account grow, so you can use your planner to keep track of what you are saving.
If you are trying to lose weight, you can also use your planner to record your weight loss. When you keep track of your goals, you can check regularly so you are more likely to achieve them.
Achieve Wellness with a Vision Board
Along with using a planner to keep track of your goals, you can use a vision board to see them fall into place. Your vision board can include the things you want to achieve. It can also include photos of you before and after, so you can see how you have changed as you change your wellness habits.
Your vision board can include photos. It can also include measurements of your waist, hips, chest, thighs, and arms, as well as an analysis of your physical abilities. You can measure your heart rate, toe-touching ability, and running speed, for example. These baseline measurements will help you see your accomplishments.
You could also post pictures of recipes you want to make, books you want to read, and hobbies you want to try. Whatever you put on the board, post it somewhere that you can see it and remind yourself of what you want to do with your life.
Why Aren’t You Achieving Your Healthy Goals?
Life truly can get in the way of your plans. This is where the different aspects of wellness are helpful. You might be busy at work, or your children might not feel well, but you can still practice other elements, like emotional wellness.
Instead of getting frustrated about not achieving your goals, you can recognize that you are not perfect. Let go of the failures and work on what you can at the time. The founder of Bikram Yoga, Bikram Choudhury, said: “Never too old, never too bad, never too late, never too sick to start from scratch once again.” Remember this when you are feeling like a failure.
There is nothing wrong with starting over again. But, remember, that reality can get in the way of your goals, so look at what is getting in the way, and adjust your goals accordingly.
You might find yourself making excuses about failing. Your reasons could be:
- You don’t have the time
- You hate your job
- Your children take too much time
- You dislike exercising
- You don’t have enough money
When you find that you are making excuses that keep you from achieving your dreams, it might just be time to shift your mindset. Take time to write down the explanations and recognize what purposes they are blocking. Then, figure out how to get past those excuses so you can achieve your goals. You might need to include your children in your goals.
If you are avoiding goals because you don’t enjoy exercising or you dislike your job, then it might be time to make some more significant changes. Maybe you find a form of exercise that you do like. Maybe you need to find a job that you actually enjoy. Maybe you need to hire a babysitter occasionally or put the kids to bed earlier so you can take time for yourself.
Stop Making Excuses and Find Solutions
Instead of making excuses, it is better to look for solutions. If you cannot find time to exercise because you have your children with you all of the time, find an exercise you can do with your children. Or, join a health club that provides childcare.
If you do not have the money to achieve your goals, then you should make some changes to your financial outcomes. Figure out what is standing in your way financially and take care of the problem. You might find that you need to pick up a side gig, or maybe you need to cut something out of your life, so you have more money.
You do not have to have a massive list of goals. Start by picking one or two and add a few more as your goals turn into habits. Little things can have a significant impact on your wellness.
Turn to Friends to Help with Struggles
You might find that some of your goals are exceptionally easy to achieve, while others might create stress in your life. Instead of letting the challenging goals get your down, you can learn to deal with the problems in new ways.
Rather than getting frustrated with the challenges, you can turn to new ideas to manage the difficulties. For example, you can turn to friends to help you look at the problem in a different light. Not only will this give you time to socialize (which could fulfill one of your goals), but it can give you a fresh perspective on what troubles you.
Don’t Forget to Laugh
It can be easy to get caught up in our goals. While you are busy trying to achieve your outcomes, you might forget to enjoy living life. Part of living a healthy life is taking time to laugh and smile. If you cannot remember the last time you laughed, really laughed, then you need to find time to do this.
If you haven’t laughed, close up your planner and find something funny. Watch a video on YouTube or go to a local comedy club. With a good round of real belly laughter, you will be ready to get back to your goals.
Put Some Trust in the Universe
It is vital that you recognize that you cannot control everything. Part of becoming well is understanding that you can believe in your goals. You do not have to control the purposes or let the goals control you.
Put some faith in the universe and understand that your goals will unfold exactly the way they are supposed to unfold. If you cannot drink 64 ounces of water on Saturday, then so be it. Do not get mad at yourself; recognize what happened and accept it. This is part of bettering your whole self, too.