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Do you know what sustainable S.M.A.R.T targets are, and how they can be used to boost your mental health?
When you finally decide to take the plunge into eating disorder recovery you’ll more than likely be assigned to a therapist. If you’re familiar with therapy then you’ll be all too familiar with the age-old questions of “What do you want to get out of therapy?” or “What are your goals?“.
No matter how many times I’m asked these questions I always manage to fall over my words unable to come up with what I actually want. I want recovery, I want to be better and I want to live a full life. Is that too much to ask?
But the problem with these statements is that they’re a blanket over too many possibilities. They’re much too vague. And that’s exactly what sustainable SMART targets aim to address.
What are sustainable SMART targets?
Sustainable SMART targets can be used in all areas of life from the workplace to your own personal goals. That includes recovery! They’re highly motivating, help provide clarity, keep you organised, and even help instill focus and purpose. There’s nothing better than ticking off your to-do list, and SMART targets can contribute to making that a reality!
The SMART target structure as we know it today was created by George T. Doran in 1981. The model first appeared in the journal “Management Review” titled “There’s a S.M.A.R.T. Way to Write Management’s Goals and Objectives.”
Although the original set out SMART as meaning Specific, Measurable, Assignable, Realistic, and Time-related, there have since been a variety of versions. In the context of this article, we’ll be replacing Assignable with Achievable and Time-related with Timely.
S . M . A . R . T
You can’t get anywhere or accomplish anything without first knowing what you want to achieve. It’s like planning a vacation and not knowing where you want to go. It’s a no-brainer! But don’t be too vague when setting your goals.
“I want to be less obsessed by my weight/body shape ” is far too vague and can easily go astray if you let it.
“I will decrease body checking and weighing to once a week” is far more manageable and specific, therefore more likely to be achieved.
How are you going to measure your achievement of the goal? You need guidelines to measure your progress, and this is a lot easier to do in the latter statement.
You can easily determine if you are weighing yourself less than if you are becoming less obsessed with your weight/ body shape. It makes it easier to see how well you are doing, or if you are going off course a bit.
For example, if you want to reduce weighing to once a week as opposed to daily then you can mark on your calendar every day that you achieve this. You can’t visibly or easily mark how much less obsessed you are with your weight.
To break it down even further, by adding a goal with a number you can make your goal more measurable.
Are the goals that you’re setting within the achievable realms? For the above I know plenty of people who don’t weigh themselves on a daily basis, maybe not even on a weekly basis, and have lived to tell the tale. Better yet, I know recovered anorexics who have left the scales and body checking behind them.
I can conclude from this that cutting down on weighing myself is far more achievable in a short space of time than becoming less weight/body obsessed.
The ‘R’ of SMART can also be used to describe ‘realistic‘ or ‘*relevant‘ but in regards to eating disorder recovery, I think risk fits better.
We don’t want to get stuck in the safety zone in recovery, we want to challenge ourselves to leave the eating disorder voice behind and let in the more positive voices. This could be in the realm of challenging fear foods and starting to reintroduce them into your diet again.
- “This week I am going to eat bread three times.”
- “I’m going to have ice cream.”
- “I definitely want some chocolate.”
Perfectly obtainable but, in the mind of an anorexic, risky and challenging.
Sometimes time limits are good. In regards to full recovery, they aren’t. I set myself a goal of being weight restored and ready to go back to work by the beginning of February. But it didn’t happen and it left me extremely guilty.
But you can set time limits to achieve smaller goals like the ones above. I set myself goals each week in therapy that are very similar to the ones I mentioned. This week my goal is to reintroduce milk into my diet before my next appointment with the eating disorder therapist, which happens to be a week away.
The goal is to drink milk at least once, the time frame is one week. Is it specific? Yes. Is this achievable? Yes. Is it risky? Yes, it is for me at least.
What better way to start, or continue, your journey into recovery than to set sustainable SMART targets?
Leave behind the vague, unachievable ideals and start setting yourself realistic targets that, when met, will boost your help confidence in eating disorder recovery.