Getting to Goal
Making lifestyle changes that stick
Guidelines for Goal Setting
Why set working goals?
Improving your health starts with well-
constructed goals. It is a conversation that
starts with your health provider on the first
visit day. Setting goals helps you focus on
what is most important-imagine how you
will feel when you reach your target.
How to arrange your lifestyle goals
Reaching goals lets you know if you are
making progress. There are many areas that
people address when they commit to
improving their day-to-day functioning.
Think about these areas when putting your
changes in order:
What change(s) am I most willing to
What change(s) will have a clear
What change(s) can I fit into my
lifestyle with the least disruption?
What change(s) will be the most
realistic given my situation?
Setting specific and realistic goals
It can be helpful to start off with a small,
more reasonable goal. This will give you
the confidence to tackle those larger goals in
ξ Make a list of areas to work on.
ξ Pick one area that is workable.
ξ Think about what is changeable and
ξ Break the goal into smaller, specific
ξ Write a plan for how you will reach
the goal over the next several weeks
The 90% Confidence Rule
Do not expect to be perfect every day of the
week. This will set you up for failure. Use
the 90% confidence rule to decide whether
your goal is realistic. Here is how it works:
If you are not 90% sure that you can reach
that smaller goal within two weeks, you have
set the goal too high. Make it easier.
Smart Goal Setting System
Use the SMART goal setting system to help set precise goals. A well-written goal allows you to
track your progress and answer the question, “Did I achieve this goal?” with a clear “yes” or
S = Specific, example: “I will do a strength training routine of lifting a can of soup 5 times with
each arm, 2 times a day at least 3 days a week.”
M = Measurable, example: “I will spend 30 minutes visiting with my sister in person or on the
phone every Monday.”
A = Achievable, example, “I will exercise by walking 5 minutes at least 3 days a week.”
R = Relevant, example, “I will practice 10 minutes of meditation at least 3 days a week.”
T = Time based, example: “For the next week, I will prepare at least 1 meal for my family.”
My Personal Smart Goal
Use the SMART goal setting system to set your own goals. Start by making small changes one step
at a time. Remember, anything you do today towards your goals is a step in the right direction.
Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you
have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This
is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each
person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using
this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright © 5/2017 University of Wisconsin Hospitals
and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#7164.