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Goal Setting

As the educator and patient progress through the appointment, there will likely be several possible lifestyle changes that would be beneficial to the patient. It’s critical that the patient is actively involved in picking lifestyle changes.

    Helping the Client Select Lifestyle Goals

    Some behavior changes may be required for patient safety (link to safety checklist). It’s the role of the healthcare professional to help patients to prioritize goals. Examples include lifestyle habits related to contraception, hypoglycemia, etc.

    • Remember to use your skills at helping to assess and address conviction and confidence (link). Consider the phrase “How do you feel about . . .?” to help the patient to define possible lifestyle changes.
      • For example, “I’m concerned that about your safety when you drive without checking your blood glucose first. How do you feel about ensuring that you check your blood glucose every time before you drive?” Address issues related to conviction and confidence.

    How Many Lifestyle Goals 

    If there are several safety issues, you might encourage the patient to choose only goals related to these. If there are fewer than 2 lifestyle-related safety issues, you might encourage the patient to choose a total of 1 or 2 lifestyle goals.


    Components of a Goal Setting

    SMART Goals

    • Effective goal setting follows the SMART acronym:
      • Specific
      • Measurable
      • Achievable
      • Realistic, Relevant
      • Time based

    Goals tailored to stage of change

    • Consider that goals might be thinking, planning or doing.
      • Example of thinking goal:
        • "I will think about and write down a list of how healthier eating habits will help me to better enjoy the time I spend with my grand-children, feel better and have more energy. I’ll bring the list to my next appointment in 1 month.”
      • Example of a planning goal:
        • "I will discuss my barriers to healthy eating with my spouse, and plan strategies to overcome those barriers. I will write down our plan, and bring that plan with me to our next appointment in 1 month.”
      • Example of a doing goal:
        • "I will pack and bring a healthy lunch with me to work at least 4 days per week starting this week. I’ll let you know how successful I’ve been when we meet again in 1 month.”

    Documentation and follow up


    • Document the goal(s) in the patient record. Tell the patient you will ask about progress at the next follow up.

    • Remember to ask about goals set at the last visit. Help the client to assess their progress in a non-judgmental way.
      • For example: “I appreciate your honesty in letting me know about your difficulties achieving your goal to take your lunch to work at least 4 days per week. How do you feel about discussing the challenges you had, and changing or re-setting your goal?”


    Client Resources

    • Alberta Healthy Livings’ workshop “Better Choices, Better Health”. Enroll on-line or phone 403-943-2584

    • SMART goals and nutrition, on the Health Canada website, found here.

    • Weight Management Skills for Success including SMART goals (audio/visual) found here (note that Flash is required).