Building Positive Habits with S.M.A.R.T. Goals

Building Positive Habits with Goals

Now that we understand habits, how they’re formed, and what we can do about them, let’s choose one or two habits to begin working on. And we are not going to tackle the ultimate habit of “quitting alcohol” quite yet, because we want to have a few small wins before we move on to Big Fish like habitual alcohol use. Instead, let’s choose a habit related to your alcohol use that we can work on, and set some goals around it. (This has the added benefit of weakening the Big Fish habit by building positive habits around it!)


Here’s a tool that’s helpful for all types of goal setting, not just goals about habits: S.M.A.R.T. Habits. Originally coined by George T. Doran in 1981, S.M.A.R.T. outlines some good guidelines to create an attainable goal so we’re not shooting for a pie in the sky.


  • Specific – target a specific area for improvement.

  • Measurable – quantify or at least suggest an indicator of progress.

  • Assignable – specify who will do it.

  • Realistic – state what results can realistically be achieved, given available resources.

  • Time-related – specify when the result(s) can be achieved.


Today, let’s set some goals around our bedtime, as an example of something adjacent to alcohol-use, but not quite there yet. Say we have gotten in a bad habit of staying up late, and we know we continue to drink when we do that, so we’d like to bump up our bedtime a little.