Setting Personal Health Goals

Question MarkIf you don’t know where you are going, then any route will get you there.

Do you want to live to be 100? Do you want to avoid ending up in a nursing home? Do you want to never need long-term prescriptions for anything? Do you want to barefoot water ski when you are 75 years old? Do you want to stay a size 6? Do you want to be able to work till you are 68? Do you want to be able to run a mile in 7 minutes?

These are all examples of health goals.  Having health goals is important because they make it easier to make healthier daily lifestyle choices. It’s intuitively obvious that random lifestyle choices based on cost, pleasure, ease, or convenience are not likely to lead to good health.

We have to be intentional if we want to stay healthy or get healthier. Being intentional is more effective when guided by goals.

Green saladIf you don’t know where you are going, then any route will get you there. But if one of your health goals is to stay a size 6, then when your appetizer at the restaurant is a choice of French Onion soup versus a spring greens mixed salad with vinaigrette dressing, you are more likely to choose the salad, right?

For goals to be effective, there needs to be a purpose behind them. Ask yourself, “Why do I want this goal? What is the purpose of this goal?” Be as clear as you can about it.

You can set big long-term goals and small short-term goals. Both are important. They give you clarity about why you are doing what you are doing, and clarity gives you more power to act.

Again, as I said in my previous blog, effective goals are S.M.A.R.T. Specific, Measurable, Achievable or Attainable, Relevant or Realistic, and Time-bound. WRITE THEM DOWN. Put as much detail in them as possible. Keep a record. Write the deadlines in your planner or on your calendar.   That is a key action step that makes you more committed to them.

At AIH, we are here to help you reach your health goals. Lifestyle change is the biggest factor in your achieving them, and that is what we are passionate about.

Dr William EpperlyDr. William Epperly, Fellow American Academy of Family Practice
Fellow American Academy of Otolaryngic Allergy
Member of Christian Medical and Dental Society