Wellness & Education

Wellness & Education

Tips for successful goal-setting

by Lexy Kliewer, LCSW, Joan Pugh, PsyDKatie Snow, LCSW

Setting successful New Year's resolutionsAt WHA we believe in focusing on self-care and good health year-round. But, if the indulgences of the holidays and the extra family time have gotten you off track and you are looking for some ways to start the year off right, our behavioral health team has some pointers for setting successful New Year’s resolutions.

Make your goals SMART. 

This means that they should be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. Having goals that can be tracked is key to identifying whether or not you have been successful. Here are some examples:

Not-so-SMART Goal 


Eat healthier.

No eating after dinner.

Get more sleep.

Be in bed by 10PM with the lights out Sunday-Thursday.

Exercise more.

Go to the gym and exercise for 30 minutes on Saturdays, Tuesdays and Thursdays

Focus on the WHY, and not just the WHAT.

For most people it is easy to identify a few things they would like to change or improve in their lives. However, lasting change is created when we connect our ‘what’ to a ‘why.’ A ‘why’ is normally a value or motivation. We are much more likely to continue with a new habit if it is connected to something that is important to us. Here are some examples:



No eating after dinner.

Staying healthy allows me to have more energy to do my favorite activities and I know that my nighttime eating has contributed to unhealthy weight gain..

Be in bed by 10PM with the lights out Sunday-Thursday.

Family relationships are my priority. I am less irritable and more emotionally available to my family when I get enough sleep.

Go to the gym and exercise for 30 minutes on Saturdays, Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Taking few medications is important to me. Exercise allows me to stay healthy enough that I don’t need as much medication for my health condition.

Stay flexible and compassionate with yourself. 

”The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.” – Carl Rogers  

Research shows that criticizing yourself and rigid or inflexible thinking creates barriers to change. It undermines self-confidence, is associated with anxiety and depression and creates fear of failure, among other problems. The opposite approach—self compassion—allows for mistakes, which are an essential part of change and creates a path to deeper connection with ourselves and others (we all struggle!).

Inflexible / less compassionate

Flexible / more compassionate

I ate after dinner tonight and it is only January 3rd. I failed at my goal. I have no self-control.

I ate after dinner tonight. I did really well on January 1st and 2nd, I think I can try again tomorrow. New habits can be hard.

I only made it to bed by 10 once this week. My life and my family are too demanding to go bed early.

Telling everyone my intention and asking for help was what made the difference. I’ll try that twice next week and see if I can work my way up.

I only went to the gym one day today out of the three I had planned this week. I can’t keep up an exercise routine. I may as well give up.

I am disappointed that I only made it to the gym one day out of the three I had planned this week. I know I can do it since I made it one day. It helped to set out my gym clothes, I think I will try that again.

If you are trying to figure out which goals may be right for you, need help with that whole SMART goal concept or just want a friendly and knowledgeable person to help you stay accountable, come talk with a WHA behaviorist. But please, don’t only come in January. We work at goal setting all year long!

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