Setting SMART activity goals

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​A goal is something important to you that you want to accomplish. Goals can focus on any part of your life, such as your health, your activity, your career or your social life.

Effective goals are SMART goals. This means they are:

  • specific (clearly defined)
  • measurable (you can measure when you’ve reached it)
  • achievable (possible to reach)
  • relevant (important to you)
  • time-bound (there is a deadline or end date).

Why set activity goals?

When you set an activity goal, you make a plan for how much activity you will do. This way, you take control of your activity levels instead of letting your pain control them. Creating a plan will make it easier to see your progress and help you get a better idea of how activity is helping you to manage your pain.

Goal setting and planning will help you learn about your ideal physical activity levels, and what you can do.

How to set SMART goals

Goal setting and planning take time and practice to work well. Follow the steps below to create some SMART goals for yourself.

Step 1: Start by asking, “What do I want to do?” and “What are my long-term goals?”

We’ll take the example of three simple goals, such as:

  • “Do more bike riding.”
  • “Make more time for hanging out with friends.”
  • “Catch up on homework.”

Step 2: The next stage is to break down your ultimate goals into something measurable

  • Bike riding – “Ride my bike around the block four times a month.”
  • Hanging out with friends – “Visit a friend at least once a week.”
  • Homework – “Finish reading the science chapters by Friday.”

Great! Now you have your SMART goals in place. Remember, the goals here are just suggestions. It’s important to choose goals that are important to you.

Step 3: To help you start on these SMART goals, break them down into logical steps.

Let’s take the example “To finish reading my science chapters by Friday.”

The steps on the way to achieving your goal might look something like this.

  • “Clear a spot in my room where I can sit down and read.”
  • “Read for 5 minutes at a time, completing 10 pages a day.”
  • “At the end of each chapter, go back and make sure I understand the main ideas.”

While your goals should be possible or realistic, they should still push you. For example, if you are a keen runner, setting a goal to run 400m twice a week might be achievable but not particularly challenging. In this case, a goal that might push you could be to run for 30 minutes four times a week.

Remember too that goals should be specific. For example, "Go to school more" is a general goal, but "Spend at least four days a week in school" is more specific. Saying how often you would like this behaviour to happen not only makes the goal more specific but also helps you measure your progress.

Getting started toward your goals

A couple of key behaviours can help people get started on their goals.

  • Remove any barriers that might have been in your way before. Make a plan to tackle them and get help if you need it.
  • Follow through! You are the one who needs to carry out the steps in your plan.
  • Use the iCanCope app to set your own physical activity goals!
Last updated: May 2nd 2016