S.M.A.R.T. Personal Goal Setting | The new year is officially here, and it’s time for many to start off fresh. Along with the new year comes the traditional New Year’s resolutions, which many of us make with the hope of starting the year off on a positive note.
The truth is that anything you can do to help improve your life and the lives of those around you should be encouraged. Now for the hard part, though; the follow-through.
Following-through on our New Years’ resolutions often runs out of steam before we’ve hit the end of January. Often times our lack of follow-through is due, at least in part, to setting unrealistic expectations on ourselves.
Sure, I’d love to climb Mount Everest! And the odds of that happening are slim to none.
Therefore, when personal goal setting and refining our New Year’s resolutions, we need a little forethought with a nod to what in the hell can we really do.
While I may want to climb Mount Everest, perhaps I should set my goal to successfully climbing some local mountains first.
Maybe just making sure I get up and go for a hike once a week would be a more focused and better person goal to get the ball rolling.
So, when personal goal setting, whether your goals are a New Year’s resolutions or a goal set later in the year, you need some checks and balances to make sure that you aren’t biting off more than you can chew.
Instead, planning for success with your New Year’s resolution and any other goals can be done by playing it S.M.A.R.T.
Setting S.M.A.R.T. goals helps us to be more successful by establishing a framework that grounds us in reality. In turn, or foundation of reality, motivates us to be more successful in achieving whatever it is we set out to do.
So, when setting your goals, use the S.M.A.R.T. acronym to help make sure you keep on track, and you never know. Mount Everest may become a reality.
We are often less successful in succeeding at our goals when we leave them overly board. In other words, focus on what you need to do to achieve your goal.
For example, if you want to eat a healthier diet, don’t just say, I want to eat more healthy.
Instead, set goals such as I want to eliminate sugar from my diet, or I won’t eat after 8 pm.
One way to help make your personal goal setting more specific is to use the Five W’s.
- Who: Who do you need to involve to achieve your goal. If you want to become more healthy, maybe that’s a trip to your doctor, or consulting with a nutritionist or personal trainer.
- What: What is your goal? Maybe you want to lose 10 pounds, or be able to run five miles without stopping. Also, work to identify any requirements or struggles you may have in achieving your goal. Knowing what you want to achieve and the hurdles you may face ahead of time makes it more likely that you will achieve it!
- Where: Where do you need to to go to achieve your goal. Maybe you need to go to the gym. Perhaps it’s out to a nearby trail or the doctor’s office to get started.
- When: When will you work to achieve your goal. For example, every morning, when you wake up, you’ll stretch and head outside for a walk around the block. If you’re dieting, maybe you don’t eat until noon every day. Whatever it is, set a time.
- Not only do you want to set a time when you take action towards achieving your goal. To be successful, you’ll also want to set a time frame. In other words, “I want to lose ten pounds by June.” Give yourself a deadline and work to make it happen
- Why: This one is easy. Why do you want to achieve your goal? What are the reasons you want to make your goal happen? Perhaps you want to fit into an old pair of jeans again, or you want to run a marathon. Whatever the case, understanding the why behind your goal will help keep you motivated to achieve it.
The ability to measure your progress is a great motivator. After all, how good does it feel when, after dieting, you get on the scale and see a pound or two has faded away?
Some ways to measure your goals are to ask yourself questions like “How many pounds do I want to lose.” “How much sleep do I want to get a night.” In other words, ask yourself questions that will help you to know when you’ve reached your goal or the progress you make along the way.
To be successful, our goals must be achievable. In other words, my goal of climbing Mount Everest may be possible in a few years, and it’s definitely not attainable by the end of January.
If you want to organize your train wreck of a garage, and you can barely walk in it, setting a goal of next weekend may not be doable.
It’s essential to make goals achievable. Otherwise, frustration and failure will snatch up our goal and laugh in our face as we give up and plop our butt’s back on the couch, saying, “Next year.”
To work towards a goal, especially one that is not easy, requires motivation. That motivation can come when we determine that achieving the goal is important to us. Not only do we need to check the importance of the goal, but we also should ask ourselves is what we want worth the time and effort it will take to achieve it? Also, if we decide to pursue a goal, what are we possibly giving up to do so? Is our goal worth sacrificing other parts of our lives?
A goal is NOT a goal unless we set a time for us to complete it by. When we set a completion date, we put ourselves on notice that we have work to do. Setting a time when to achieve our goal by also helps us prioritize what we do and when. Perhaps there will be days that working towards your goal may take second place compared to other life events. Then, there may be days that your goal must come first.
In the end, New Year’s resolutions and personal goal setting, in general, is best accomplished with a plan. By using a S.M.A.R.T. you will be more likely to be successful due to your improved, goal-oriented mindset. By being S.M.A.R.T., you’ll find that you’re more motivated to achieve your goals, which will be more clear, focused, and doable.
So get S.M.A.R.T. and get going!
Never forget, you’re just one prep away.
If you have any other thoughts or questions about personal goal setting, please leave a comment below.
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