How to Set Goals and Achieve Them
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On this episode, Chuck Gaidica and Grace Derocha discuss how to set goals and achieve them.
“I think when we talk about goals, I think one of the first things (we should do is), think about what is your why? What is driving your force to allow you to make things happen so that you live healthier?” – Grace Derocha
In this episode of A Healthier Michigan Podcast, we explore:
How to set S-M-A-R-T-E goals:
- S = Specific
- Be specific about what our goals are so that we can keep ourselves accountable.
- Ex: “I want to lose weight.”
- M = Measurable
- Our goal needs to be measurable so we can keep track of our progress.
- Ex: “I want to lose 50 pounds.”
- A = Achievable (adjustable, attainable)
- Our eyes are sometimes bigger than our stomachs so to say when choosing our goals. We may choose goals that are unattainable. If this happens, we need to be prepared to adjust our goals to make them achievable. It’s always better to bend than break.
- Ex: “My goal is to lose 50 pounds, however, I want to focus on shedding 20 pounds to start.”
- R = Relevant (realistic)
- Based on our lifestyle, is our goal realistic? What changes do we need to make in order to make this goal relevant to us?
- Ex: “I walk two days a week for 30 minutes. Maybe I should start walking two days a week for 45 minutes and riding my bike one day a week for an hour.”
- T = Time-specific (time-sensitive)
- Setting a timeline to our goal will help keep us on pace and know if and when we should adjust our goals based on our progress.
- Ex: “I want to lose 50 pounds in a year. I should focus on losing one pound a week and maintaining my weight loss week-over-week.”
- E = Enjoyable (exciting to you)
- If our goal isn’t exciting to us, then we’ll quickly lose interest and give up on our goal.
- Ex: “I love going for walks and bike riding. I will make more time to incorporate both into my weight loss goal because I already enjoy those activities.”
- Set short-term, midterm and long-term goals.
- Having a big goal in mind becomes more realistic to achieve when we focus on small goals that work toward our main goal.
- Have a support system, like a friend or family member, to help motivate us to reach our goals.
- Be consistent with the actionable steps we’ve created to accomplish our goal.
- Maintain self-awareness throughout our journey to achieving our goals (what’s driving you?).
Chuck: This is A Healthier Michigan Podcast, episode six. Coming up, we discuss how you can take actionable steps on accomplishing your health goals.
Chuck: Welcome to A Healthier Michigan Podcast, the podcast dedicated to navigating how we can all improve our health and our well-being by taking small steps, sometimes to healthy habits, and then implementing them. We can start some of that stuff right now. I’m your host Chuck Gaidica. Each week, we’re sitting down with a new episode, and we’re sitting with a certified health expert from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, as we take a dive into covering topics like nutrition. We’re kind of there for these first six podcast episodes, but even more, we’re dabbling in well-being and even stress reduction, and we’ve got a whole bunch more information coming over the course of 18 episodes. And on this episode, we’re talking about this idea of, I guess, putting action behind your words, right? Actually, taking steps and doing things and creating goals.
Chuck: Grace Derocha is back with us, a registered dietitian, certified health coach at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, and she’s a featured blogger right here at A Healthier Michigan. Hello, coach.
Grace: Hello, Chuck.
Chuck: I want to say, put me in, coach, because I’m taking your advice from all of our other episodes so far.
Chuck: It’s good to see you.
Grace: Good to see you as well.
Chuck: You know, your resume is so great, MSU grad, and then you went to Wayne State for an MBA, but all these great credentials you have, and then you’re a mom of two, a wife to one. So you’ve got all the bases covered, right?
Chuck: You have forgotten more than we all know about nutrition and health, and this idea of setting goals, that becomes so important for all of the things we’ve talked about, right?
Grace: Yes, I think if we don’t set actionable goals, then the things that we talk about … Because you can google doctor anything you want to, you could read anything you want to, you could listen to this podcast and gain some knowledge.
Grace: But if you don’t take what you know and turn it into actionable items for yourself, then what’s the point?
Chuck: Yeah, yeah. And, you know, the idea of goals. I mean, I have a goal. I’d like to own a Bentley.
Chuck: Right? No, I’m kidding. I mean, there are goals where I can want to do that all my life, or I can want to own the Taj Mahal, but the seriousness is that we’ve got to make sure we’re keeping it real.
Grace: Yes, absolutely.
Grace: I think when we talk about goals, I think one of the first things, think about what your goals may be like long term, but then bring them back to midterm and short term. But before any of that, what is your why? What is driving your force to allow you to make things happen so that you live healthier?
Chuck: And when you say that, what is your why, you’re going deeper than just the question. Well, why? I just want to be on a diet.
Chuck: That’s not really the answer. You’re speaking of, or am I wrong?.
Grace: Yes, no, that is not the answer.
Grace: I think I’ve mentioned like when I was in my 20s, I wanted to wear a size two. That was my why at that time because there was nothing else, right?
Grace: But now things are different. I have young kids, I’m in my 40s, and now I care about what that looks like in the future, being there for them, living a long time so I can play with my grandkids one day.
Chuck: So is that not more important in so many ways that the answer to the why question ties in emotion?
Chuck: You’re thinking of your children. I mean, you may be standing, visualizing and looking right at them and thinking, “Man, I just want to be here to see this fun when they’re twice their age.”
Chuck: Or, I want to have a long life with your husband, Tom.
Chuck: So your goals actually can have something that’s so important that helps drive you down that train track to success.
Grace: Right. And often, our why is bigger than ourselves now, right? It’s more than fitting a size two dress. It’s about my future, it’s about other people that I love in my life.
Grace: And then wanting to do things to make me better and healthier because of that, that’s pretty powerful, you know.
Chuck: And at the same time, you’ve talked about this idea of self-awareness and using breathing exercises, and we’ll get into that now with the next, you know, Cindy Bjorkquist will be back starting next week, and then after that, Dr. Duane DiFranco, this idea that taking care of yourself. If during a crisis or a moment of some issue, it could be that weight loss is important to you and there’s a health crisis.
Chuck: If you were on an airplane and you were losing altitude and all the oxygen masks come down, if you don’t put yours on first, and then, they tell you.
Chuck: And then put it on the people next to you. If you’re passed out, you can’t help anybody else. If you’re not practicing self-care and maybe one of the goals is, it is good to look at your family and others, but also what about self? Not in a selfish way, you know.
Chuck: I don’t mean self-absorbed way.
Grace: No, and I totally agree. I think … It’s funny that you mentioned this, but self-love and self-care, one of my girlfriends who’s a yoga instructor, she was doing what she was calling 100 days project, and everyone had to pick something that they were going to do for 100 days. It could be so simple. And to give myself leeway, I cheated a little bit, but my 100-day project was to do something for myself for the entire 100 days, and that could be taking five minutes to read a book, making sure I scheduled my work out that day. So I kind of cheated because I gave myself a little bit of leeway, but that was important to me, especially in this day and age when we’re all so busy.
Grace: There’s so much going on.
Chuck: Oh, you’re a working mom. I mean, talk about busy.
Chuck: I mean, there’s a lot going on.
Grace: Yeah. And when I think of my friends too, and some that aren’t mom, some that are, but just with work, and life, and keeping up on social media, there’s so many things happening that sometimes those few moments of meditation for myself, or making sure that I wash my face and do a face mask for fun, or-
Chuck: You, too!?
Grace: Whatever it might be, but I think that self-care and self-love, like you mentioned, if we don’t take care of ourselves, how are we supposed to take care of everyone else that we want to help?
Chuck: Yeah. You mentioned these goals, and I think you actually said short and maybe midterm and long term goals. Are you kind of saying that before we get out of hand and I want to lose 1000 pounds, maybe we start taking these off in smaller chunks these goals, right?
Grace: Yes. I will tell you, I have had patients say to me things like, “I want to run a marathon.” And I’m like, “Great, goal.” And then the next sentence is, “I’ve never ran a day in my life.”
Chuck: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.
Grace: So, how do we back plan from there?
Grace: How do we look at, if that really … And I always also ask them, “Why a marathon? Is that something that you’re connected to? Is that something that you’ve just always wanted to try?”
Chuck: Yeah, why not two miles?
Grace: Yeah. Why not go for a walk-
Chuck: Mm-hmm, right.
Grace: … with some consistency?
Chuck: So do you find that with the people that you’ve dealt with professionally, and yourself, your family, that having this grouping of short term, midterm, and long term goals can lead to success instead of just saying that’s my ultimate goal to run the marathon?
Grace: Yes, because it’s lofty and overwhelming, right?
Grace: Even if it’s something regarding weight loss. And don’t get me wrong, I want to be clear with this. If you do want to lose weight as a goal, to look good, to make yourself feel better, that can be a great goal, too. I don’t want to take that away from anyone. But I think saying, I want to lose 100 pounds, or whatever it might be, that’s pretty overwhelming.
Chuck: And that also sets you up for when you’ve only lost, and I say only, I’m not diminishing this, you’ve only lost two.
Chuck: But two times 52 weeks, it would be all over if you actually stayed on that pace. And I think some of us forget that, wow, if you just did the math, actually, if I stayed on a two pound a week, if that were possible, you’d be there.
Grace: And I feel like the word consistency is something that I always talk about. I know Dr. DiFranco, or Cindy, or probably both of them will talk about the research that’s out there about, if you do something for almost a month, every day, you will see it will become a habit.
Chuck: And I think that’s so important because I think practice makes perfect. And this idea that in our lives, we think of rituals as something that are cultural, or that you’ll see in a house of worship. We all have rituals. We wake up and brush our teeth, the toothpaste is in the same place, the brush is there, we go to work a similar way, you tie your shoe … If you don’t have your right stuff in the right order, sometimes ritual helps you in this process of success, right?
Grace: Absolutely. And that’s why we want to set ourselves up for success with the goals that we set and being very realistic about them. And I know we talked about this, SMART goals.
Chuck: Okay, yeah, that’s an acronym.
Chuck: And I’ve used that in my life. I really have used … So explain to everybody, and you have a little twist on S-M-A-R-T, which each of those letters stands for something. Your’s are what goals?
Grace: Mine are, I call them SMARTE goals, but there, I just add an E on the end.
Chuck: Not like SMARTY pants goals?
Chuck: You mean SMARTE goals.
Grace: Yes. So SMART with an E at the end, SMARTE goals.
Chuck: So what does that mean? So help us.
Grace: So SMART is being very specific about your goal. So whether you’re doing a short term goal, and that could be a day, that could be a week, that could be, depending on where you’re at, getting through the next meal.
Grace: So what you want to do with any of your goals is keep them SMARTE. So SMART, the S part is specific, so being very specific so that you can keep yourself accountable to what that is. We’ll run through examples after we go through all the letters.
Grace: M is measurable. And again, that’s like another accountability thing.
Grace: So that if you have something to measure against, like in school, when you take a test, you know what you’re measured up against, right?
Chuck: Yeah, yeah.
Grace: So it’s good to know that. A, I use a few different things. I use achievable and adjustable, or accountable, when you want it to be something, again, that’s achievable that you can do.
Chuck: Like I’m not going to get a Bentley. So that’s what I meant. I didn’t even know it fell into that category, but you know what I mean?
Chuck: It’s not really attainable, so why even have a goal.
Grace: Yeah, yeah, right. I’m trying to think of something crazy. I’m not going to marry Justin Timberlake because I’m already married and he’s already married.
Chuck: But he thinks highly of you.
Grace: Adjustable, so to give yourself a little bit of flexibility because if we don’t bend, we break, to make that goal a little bit adjustable, not that you want to scrap it all together, but-
Chuck: Interesting. Yeah, yeah.
Grace: Because we know that can be a lot.
Grace: And things change, right?
Grace: R is relevant or realistic, so relevant to your life. I have had patients who have set goals with me, and they make it a goal that they’re already doing. I’m like, it has to be relevant for progression. You can’t just tell me, “I’m going to drink …” I had a patient who’s like, “I’m going to make sure I drink my water.” I’m like, “That is one thing you’re good at already.”
Chuck: Drinking water.
Grace: Which is a success and we should celebrate the fact that you do that. But let’s piggyback off of that to work on something that you might not be that great at yet.
Grace: Time specific or time sensitive. So looking at maybe by the fall, you want to be ready to run that marathon, or whatever it might be. And then E, this is my favorite one, you want it to be enjoyable and exciting for you. Because sometimes we set goals that feel like they’re weighing you down or cumbersome, right? Like if you hate, hate, hate eggplant, and if you set a goal to start eating eggplant but you just can’t get into it, then-
Chuck: Yeah, you set yourself up for failure.
Grace: And I think we can do that too with, again, too lofty goals, or something that we’re not going to enjoy, like the person that wanted to run a marathon and has never ran a day in their life. But you can start somewhere, right?
Chuck: And I think what that using SMART or SMARTE goals, it still allows for the fact that we are without permission. I can’t give somebody else permission, you don’t need to give me permission to dream a big dream, right?
Grace: Exactly. Yeah, absolutely.
Chuck: Because I could dream to have a Bentley. I’ve used that over and over again, right? Nothing against Bentleys, and I don’t really need one or want one. I’m just saying that it’s okay to have a big dream because there are some people who are wired to achieve and maybe they could achieve that big dream. And then it’s also okay that sometimes maybe three little dreams turned into the big dream.
Grace: Exactly. And you don’t even know it yet until they’re there.
Grace: So I’m going to give you a couple examples.
Grace: So if we’re talking about, let’s say it’s a fitness goal, and this person is not exercising at all, currently. I would say maybe they’re going to start walking, and then I would say to them, “Okay, walking is a great exercise. You don’t need a gym membership. You just need a good pair of tennis shoes. You can do it outside, you could even do it inside your house and laps around the house, or go to the mall and walk around there. But when are you going to do it?” And then I make them pick, “I’m going to do it after work.” “Okay, but what days of the week? Look at your schedule.” And like, “Let’s schedule it like it’s as important as a meeting, or a dentist appointment, or whatever it might be.”
Grace: So then they do that. And then I say, “Okay, after work, are you going to do that somewhere close to work? Are you going to do it around work? Or are you going to do it at home?” And then they’re like, “Oh, at home.” I’m like, “What happens when you get home?” So then we talked about packing the bag, or having your tennis shoes in the car so you can put them on right away, so you don’t go inside and take off your shoes, and sit down, and look at your house and think, “I need to clean instead of going on my walk.” You know what I mean?
Grace: It’s easy to make up excuses. So we talk about all of those very specific things. And then I’ll ask them, “What day of the week are we doing it?” Write it in and let’s get it done. And then maybe for accountability’s sake, they have a walking buddy, or they log it in their app, or they text me after so I know it got done.
Grace: And if you are working with me, I will text you to make sure it happens.
Chuck: Wow, wow. And you look so nice in person. All right, so we’re making a SMART … SMART is a great an acronym and I like adding the E because oftentimes we think that the things that we’re doing are burdensome, that the weight of the world … I mean, really, when you’re trying to lose weight, you’re just thinking, “Oh, I can’t hit that goal.” And part of the excitement, it’s really good to have a little kitchen cabinet around you. Maybe that’s just your family, that you have people that are cheerleaders for you, too, because some of that excitement can come from outside sources.
Grace: Absolutely. And I think support system, you were talking about you and Susan and the app before, and how you kind of had that social contagion within just you guys as a couple and a family. And maybe there’s a friend out there that maybe wants your motivation to help drive them.
Grace: You just don’t know. I always say it’s better to do something, right?
Grace: It can be anything. And you’re going to lap anyone who’s on the couch, whether that has to do with actual, like physical fitness and exercise, or if you’re trying to make strides in healthy eating, or if you’re trying to make strides in meditation or self-care. If you’re trying to do it, you’re going to be doing better than your former self that wasn’t doing anything at all.
Chuck: And sometimes … What is that old saying? That sometimes the people we’re waiting for to show up, to make change or to do things, the person we’re waiting for is us. I mean, we think, well, the trainer at the gym is going to work this out for me.
Chuck: Or Grace is going to help me. Well, yeah, you can be helpful, but the person you’re waiting for it is you.
Grace: Yeah, I just got goosebumps when you said that. It’s so true. Having that real self-check to know that you can be the driving force behind the change that has to be made, that you have that power … I’ve read something before too, it’s a quote and I’m probably going to mess it up, but it’s something about, don’t exercise to punish your body, exercise and live healthy because you want to reward your body because it’s an amazing thing.
Chuck: That’s great. All right, so we’ll recap here real quick. Short term, midterm and long term goals. So in essence, break them up into little chunks?
Grace: Yes, maybe you say, this week I’m doing this, and then this week I’m drinking all my water, and next week I’m going to continue drinking water, but now I’m going to make sure I have a fruit every day, and piggybacking off of each other.
Chuck: All right, and keep building.
Chuck: And then go over SMARTE one more time so we get it.
Grace: So, S is specific, M is measurable, A is achievable, adjustable or accountable, R is relevant or realistic, T is time specific, and E is exciting and enjoyable because that’s another thing that I think is important to bring up. I personally don’t like running, I’m more of a class girl. So I’d rather go to a yoga class, or a Zumba class, or a kickboxing class so someone can yell at me and tell me what to do than go on a run. So find what it is that’s exciting for you. Maybe you want to start cooking more, so you take a cooking class at a favorite place with some of your friends so that you can get back into that, or get into cooking more at home.
Chuck: And those are real friends. Those aren’t just the ones you see somewhere else on social media, right? They’re actually doing something
Grace: No, no, not the Facebook friends. Yeah.
Chuck: All right. Right, right. Well, you know what, you’ve inspired me, and just so you know, I love running.
Chuck: I used to love it more, but right now I pay a guy. He’s running for me right now. And so I don’t know he’s going to do two or three miles today.
Grace: So you give him your Fitbit?
Chuck: Yeah, it’s really good. Yeah, I track it all. It’s good. I’ve got attainable goals.
Chuck: Well, Grace Derocha, it’s been a pleasure having you first part of this new podcast series, the first six episodes. We’ve learned so much from you.
Grace: Thank you so much-
Grace: … Chuck, for being here with us.
Chuck: Oh, yeah. It’s so good to be here with you. And don’t forget, if you like what you’re hearing, A Healthier Michigan Podcast, is what this is called, it’s brought to you by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, you can find all the episodes, and you’ll find Grace’s blog, and also links to important things that have been discussed like the SMARTE goals, we’ll get something online for you there, it’s all at ahealthiermichigan.org/podcast. One more time, ahealthiermichigan.org/podcast. You can put reviews there, ratings on iTunes or Stitcher, you can go there and you get all the podcasts on your smartphones or on your tablet. Be sure you subscribe to Apple podcasts, Stitcher, or your favorite podcast app.
Chuck: Join us next week, we’re going to be talking with Cindy Bjorkquist. We’ll be getting into well-being. It interacts completely with the first six episodes here. And later in this series, we’ll have Dr. Duane DiFranco helping us out as well as we continue to understand health and wellness, nutrition, how they all interact together. We hope you liked this, and you can always find these podcast episodes to go back and listen again on your next walk with your new goals. I’m Chuck Gaidica. Take good care.