A New Year often inspires individuals to make a change. Whether you have already begun this change or not, it is useful to set goals for yourself to help keep you motivated along the journey. Here are some tips on how to set SMART goals:
A useful way of making goals more powerful is to use the SMART mnemonic. While there are plenty of variants (some of which we’ve included in parenthesis), SMART usually stands for:
- S – Specific (or Significant).
- M – Measurable (or Meaningful).
- A – Attainable (or Action-Oriented).
- R – Relevant (or Rewarding).
- T – Time-bound (or Trackable).
A Specific goal should emphasize what you want to happen and should be able to answer one of these three questions: What do you want to accomplish? Why is this important? How are you going to do it?
For a measureable goal, examples include “I will eat breakfast every day” -or- “I will walk 1 mile, 5 days per week”. Examples of non-measureable goals include “I want to lose weight” or “I want to exercise more”.
To ensure your goals can be achieved, they should also be flexible. An example of an attainable goal is “I will lose 1 lb per week through proper diet and exercise”, whereas “I will lose 20 lbs in one week” in an example of an un-attainable goal.
Realistic goals should be “do-able” and should include devising a plan or a way of getting to that goal. For example, “I will plan my meals every week”, “I will bring my lunch to work rather than purchasing fast food”.
Finally, Timely goals help to break larger goals into short and long-term goals. For example, a long term goal may include “I will lose 40 lbs this year”, a short term goal may be “I will lose 4 lbs each month” and “I will lose 1 lb per week”.
Why Set Goals?
Setting goals gives you long-term vision and short-term motivation. It focuses your acquisition of knowledge, and helps you to organize your time and your resources so that you can make the very most of your life. By setting sharp, clearly defined goals, you can measure and take pride in the achievement of those goals, and you’ll see forward progress in what might previously have seemed a long pointless grind. You will also raise your self-confidence , as you recognize your own ability and competence in achieving the goals that you’ve set.
How to Set Small Goals
Set a five-year plan of smaller goals that you need to complete if you are to reach your lifetime plan. Then create a one-year plan, six-month plan, and a one-month plan of progressively smaller goals that you should reach to achieve your lifetime goals. Each of these should be based on the previous plan. Finally review your plans, and make sure that they fit the way in which you want to live your life.
- Be precise: Set precise goals, putting in dates, times and amounts so that you can measure achievement. If you do this, you’ll know exactly when you have achieved the goal, and can take complete satisfaction from having achieved it.
- Set priorities: When you have several goals, give each a priority. This helps you to avoid feeling overwhelmed by having too many goals, and helps to direct your attention to the most important ones.
- Write goals down: This crystallizes them and gives them more force.