By Lindsey Joe, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

Setting goals can be done in a matter of seconds. But setting goals that are successful should take more thought. Why? Because, unfortunately, behavior change doesn't happen like flipping on a light switch. (If it were that easy we wouldn't be chatting right now!)

Creating long-lasting, healthy habits requires us to really evaluate our own lifestyle and pinpoint those obstacles that throw us off course time and time again.

So, if you're serious about getting to your goal, make it SMART. Following this tried-and-true strategy for Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-sensitive goals is essential to your success in 2018. If you haven't already, go back and read my simple guide, which includes a printable worksheet.

Download SMART Goals Worksheet

Once you’ve got that down, consider adding one (or more) of the following seven strategies for your goal to help you achieve super success!

  1. Write. It. Down. Something happens when you have to write out and solidify your intentions. It gives you an aim whenever you're in doubt and helps you focus your energy on the things that are central to making your goal a reality.

  2. Put a positive spin on it. Nobody wants to hear about the things they can't do in life. Instead, concentrate on what you can accomplish! Here's a quick example. Instead of saying, "No chocolate except once a week," try something like, "Enjoy one bite-sized chocolate each week."

  3. Add it onto something you already do. Building a new habit on top of something you're already strong at is a solid strategy. Think: an ab circuit after yoga class or portioning out snacks after grocery shopping.
  4. Track your healthy habit. Just like checking an item off your to-do list, it feels good to see your daily progress with healthy habits. You can keep your tracker simple with good ol' pen and paper or seek out an app for your smartphone.

  5. Inspire yourself every day. There's nothing like a motivating mantra to help get your head in the game. I love these: "Inhale courage. Exhale fear," and, "Decisions determine destiny." Check out some of our other favorites.

  6. Hold yourself accountable. Whether you confide in a co-worker or enlist the help of your center's Wellness Coach, sharing your goal can help you stick to it. Be sure to express how you want your accountability partner to support you, such as a text message every Sunday or regular healthy recipe swaps. (Psst! Share your goal on Facebook and tag us @ymcamidtn.)

  7. Treat yo' self. Whatever your carrot at the end of the stick is, pinpointing the right reward can help keep you going when the going gets tough. Here are 12 of our suggestions.

How will you help yourself keep a healthy goal this year?