Column: Goal setting for better health


Commentary by Debra Balos, DO

Are you thinking about making a significant change to improve your health? When people want to make big changes in their lives, such as eating healthier, quitting smoking, losing weight or exercising regularly, goal setting can be a great tool. It’s usually best to break down your plan into both short- and long-term goals.

Here are other suggestions for setting effective goals:

Start small. Don’t overwhelm yourself before you even get started. Trying to make too many changes too fast can thwart your success. Begin with just one or two manageable goals that you’re likely to achieve and work your way up to bigger, more challenging goals.

Make goals specific. It’s easier to chart your progress when goals are specific. For example, instead of setting a goal to “exercise more,” be definitive and aim to “exercise four to five times a week for at least 30 minutes.”

Write down your goals. Make a list of your goals and keep them in clear sight. It may even be helpful to set them as reminders on your computer or smartphone.

Celebrate your success. Reward yourself when you reach each goal. It will motivate you to continue toward the next milestone.

Look for support. It can be easier to make big lifestyle or health changes when you have good resources and people in your corner. Telling close family members and friends of your plans or finding a partner who shares your same goals can be motivating and provide encouragement.

Debra Balos, DO, specializes in family medicine. She is a guest columnist located at IU Health Physicians Family Medicine – Zionsville, 55 Brendon Way, Ste. 800, in Zionsville.  She can be reached by calling the office at 777-6400.