It’s a new year, and with that many people set resolutions or goals they would like to achieve. For some, this might include eating better, losing weight, spending more time with family or volunteering more often. As you think about your own plans, maybe setting goals for managing your asthma isn’t something you had considered a new year’s resolution, but it can be. So where do you start? 

Setting Goals Using the SMART Technique

First, decide whether your goal is short-term (to be achieved in 12 months) or long-term (over the course of a few years). Then, you can use an action plan to set goals and track your progress. Using the SMART technique, a five-step approach that is easy to follow, allows you to take the action you need to achieve your goals.

  • Specific – identify the exact thing you want to target or focus on
  • Measurable – set up a system that you can measure your progress
  • Achievable – the goal should not be too easy or too hard, but still a bit challenging
  • Relevant – does the goal match the purpose of what you want to achieve long term?
  • Time – set a specific deadline to complete the goal (make sure it is realistic)

Identifying Lifestyle Changes

As you are thinking about your goal to better manage your asthma, understanding your asthma triggers is a great way to identify changes you may need to make to prevent symptoms. Many people don’t realize that lifestyle habits can affect their breathing, such as smoking, eating an unhealthy diet, or simply not avoiding known triggers. These are things to consider when setting your goals. For example:

  • If you know that dust is a trigger to your asthma, you might want to set a goal to keep your house clean and clutter-free
  • If you currently smoke – you might set a goal to quit smoking
  • If you want to lose weight – you might set a goal to exercise more often

Example of setting a lifestyle change goal using the SMART technique:

Goal: reduce exposure to dust

  • Specific – keep the living room clean of dust
  • Measurable – I will set a task on my calendar to dust the living room every other day, using a damp cloth
  • Achievable – I currently vacuum every other day so I will add this task along with that
  • Relevant – keeping the dust under control will help me avoid this asthma trigger
  • Time – I will plan to dust every other day for one month and reevaluate if I need to make any changes after that.

As you can see, putting together a realistic action plan creates a roadmap to help you achieve the goal. Having more than one goal going at the same time is ok, but ideally no more than three goals is recommended to be successful. Too many goals can be overwhelming and causes people to give up. 

Remember this:

Set short- and long-term goals. Choose realistic goals that you can track and meet. This will make you feel more in control of what you’re spending your time and energy doing. You can always adjust your goals as your priorities change.

Use an action plan, such as the SMART technique. Breaking down your goals into smaller, measurable, action items will help you be successful in achieving the goal.

Seek support when needed: Tell your friends and family about your goal to achieve better asthma management. Ask them to support you with the changes you are wanting to make. This may include asking them to help you if you are unable to do the task on your own. If you need more support, talk to your healthcare provider or connect with someone on our Lung HelpLine.

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