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Health Information Three Tips For Setting Smart Goals

Jason Ong, PhD

The new year is a great time to turn over a new leaf. But transforming your good-intentioned New Year's resolutions into healthy habits takes a strong strategy.

Jason Ong, PhD, a clinical psychologist at Rush University Medical Center, offers three pieces of advice for setting your goals:

1. Make your target tangible.

"You can say you want to lose weight or decrease stress, but these are really concepts, not goals," Ong says. "It's hard to gauge the progress of a concept." However, if you say you want to lose 10 pounds in the next three months, you have a realistic, concrete goal and a way to measure your success.

2. Take control of your surroundings.

Retraining your brain can be easier if you modify your environment. Want to eat more fruits and vegetables? Have some prepped for when you're in a hurry or idly looking for something to snack on. Have a weakness for the sweets in the office break room? Don't linger after refilling your coffee cup.

3. Remember it's a journey, not a destination.

People who focus on putting tangible steps into practice do better than those who just fixate on the end goal. "When basketball players come to the line to make free throws, those who pay attention to mechanics make more shots than those who are only thinking about winning the game," Ong says.

Spring 2014

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