“SMART” Goal Setting

Fall is proof that change is beautiful

There’s something grounding about fall that just feels like the perfect time to make lasting, sustainable shifts, changes or transformations in my life. Maybe it’s the routine that comes with back-to-school, or the changing leaves and cooler temperatures, but personally, it’s my favourite time to set goals and intentions for the year ahead. That being said, anytime is a good time to do this work. Read on to discover a proven method that I’ve used and that will ensure you succeed in accomplishing whatever goals you set for yourself.

So, let’s dive in!


Goal Setting

Let’s start by determining what we want to achieve and how we’re going to do it. It doesn’t have to be a huge long-term goal, in fact, if you do have a lofty goal (which is fantastic!) it’s a good idea to break it down into smaller, more manageable chunks. Then go through the SMART process with each of those smaller goals.

Grab a pen and paper and let’s work through this together. Seriously, getting it on paper will increase your chances of success tremendously!

The classic SMART acronym for setting goals is still a great system for mapping out a plan of action. Answer the following questions:

S – Specific: What exactly do you want to accomplish?

M – Measurable: How will you know when you meet your goal?

A – Achievable: Is it possible to reach this goal, with effort, by your timeline?

R – Relevant: Is this goal worth working hard to accomplish?

T – Timely: What is the deadline you set to reach your goal?

This is where most people stop, and unfortunately why they often fall short of achieving their goals. Although we have a plan of action, we still need to take it one step further and dive a bit deeper if we’re going to make long-lasting changes.


Intensions & Visualization


This is where the real magic happens and how we ensure these changes will be permanent. We need to know why these goals matter, why we set them in the first place and how achieving them will affect our life.


Grab that pen and paper again and answer the following questions. Take your time with this and be as detailed as possible.


  • Why is this goal important to you?
  • How will your life be different once you have achieved this goal?
  • What will your relationship with yourself look like?
  • What will your relationships with others look like?
  • How will you know when you have been successful and what will that look and feel like?
  • Are you willing to make the sacrifices/put in the work to achieve this goal?
  • How do you want to feel and who do you want to be once this goal has been completed?


Now that you have connected to your ‘why’ it’s time to focus on identity and imagine the version of yourself that has already achieved that goal. This is meant to be a visualization exercise but since you can’t close your eyes and read, take a minute to read through the following questions, or read one question at a time, then close your eyes, take a deep breath, and see what comes to mind.

What do you look like? What are you doing? Who is with you? What is the expression on your face? What are the emotions you are experiencing? Where do you notice these sensations in your body? What does it feel like to be this healthy and have this life? What are your beliefs, values and priorities in your daily life?


Now that you have a clear image of this ‘future’ version of yourself, bring him/her into the present. Embody that identity today, right now. Affirm to yourself that you are that person and begin showing up every day as the version of yourself that you saw in the visualization exercise.

Use positive affirmation statements to strengthen your new identity, such as:

I am someone who… (ex: prioritizes movement every day)”

I choose to… (ex: fuel my body with whole foods)”

I am a… (ex: joyful person that lives in the present moment)”

I am someone who… (ex: follows through)”

I am… (ex: strong and confident)”


By choosing to embody this identity now, and start living as this ideal version of yourself, it becomes easier to make the lifestyle shifts required and to follow through with your plan of action because you already ARE the person that has completed these goals and is living this lifestyle.


Vision Boards

Vision boards can be such a powerful tool, especially if you are a very visual person. Compiling images in the form of a vision board is extremely effective at influencing your mind and harnessing your intention to bring about positive change. A vision board provides a visible daily reminder of where you’re going and why it’s important to you. Vision boards not only keep you in alignment with your desires, but they strengthen your decision-making process. They serve as a road mad and physical reminder of your big vision, and the steps you can take daily to keep living it.

Vision boards can be done in many different ways, and represent different periods of time, so choose what feels most authentic to you and your goals. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • A cut and paste project on a poster board or foam board. Use images from magazines or printed from the internet.
  • Images can even be just taped to the wall or pinned to a cork board.
  • Create a digital vision board with a collage app and save it as the screen saver/wallpaper on all of your devices. It can also be printed out to have a physical copy.
  • Include words and phrases that are positive, powerful and motivating.
  • Be sure to choose images that align with your goals and your new identity (that future version of yourself that has already accomplished these goals).
  • If you create a physical board, take a picture of it to have on your phone or upload to your computer. Set it as your wallpaper/screensaver.
  • Most importantly, be sure to keep it in a highly visible location so you’ll see it often throughout the day.


Whatever your dream, get it down on paper. Now it is officially a goal. Make that goal matter by connecting to your ‘why’ and begin identifying as that ideal version of yourself immediately. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you need additional support. I’m always in your corner and available to provide guidance. And one last note, don’t forget to enjoy the journey and celebrate ALL your little wins along the way!


You’ve so got this!

Kristyn Duchesneau

RN & Student Coach


I am a Registered Nurse and Student Health Coach. I graduated with my BScN from the UofA in 2010 and spent the first five years of my career in the acute care and emergency departments of a small rural hospital in Alberta.

After having my third child, I decided that returning to the hospital and shiftwork was not ideal so I took a job at the Lakeland Primary Care Network as a diabetic foot care nurse. I felt like this was a step in the right direction towards a career of health promotion.

I did love my job there, and especially my clients, but I was only helping to manage the complications of their chronic diseases, not to prevent the diseases in the first place. When Covid shut down the clinic, and my kids were homeschooling, I chose to stay home with them.

Even when they returned to school and the clinic reopened, I didn’t feel like returning to the Primary Care Network was the right fit for me. I decided to remain non-practicing for another year and unexpectedly began my own health and wellness journey, completely overhauling my physical, mental and emotional health, which is what ultimately inspired me to pursue a career in holistic health!


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