Setting goals is something we do constantly, whether consciously or not. Our goals could be anything from finishing a task before the end of the day to saving enough money to visit bucket list destinations. Even though we want to achieve these things, relatively few people realize these hopes and dreams for the simple reason that we do not know how to set goals and work towards them.
SMART is an acronym for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely – the qualities you need to bear in mind when setting goals. One issue that most people struggle with when thinking of personal targets is not being specific enough. For example, many people make a new year’s resolution to lose weight. This sounds like a simple objective but is vague and not time-specific. A more practical goal might be to lose 2 kg in the next five weeks: specific, measurable, and with a time limit.
An even more achievable goal would focus on an action you can perform to work towards your overall goal, such as going for a run three times a week for twenty minutes. Although the target of losing weight might be doable, it is more realistic to plan your actions rather than a specific outcome.
Putting SMART goals into action
Another reason people don’t achieve goals is the failure to plan. If your goal is to run three times a week for twenty minutes, there are many obstacles that could trip you up along the way. What if you run out of time, or forget, or get too tired?
Ways to plan for these eventualities include scheduling your runs at the beginning of each week, setting a reminder on your phone, and allowing yourself to take walk breaks if you are struggling. The most important thing is to work towards your goals, no matter how slowly.
Getting support and feedback
Research has shown that making yourself accountable can help in achieving your ambitions. A simple enough solution would be to tell a friend (or coach, or mentor, if you have one) about your goal and commit to checking in with them every week.
Although they might not have any means of giving you consequences for not following your plans, the very fact that you are going to report back to someone can motivate you to put in the action.
Start small and grow
Especially if you are new to goal-setting, it is a good idea to start gently rather than jumping in at the deep end. If you don’t have confidence in yourself it can be daunting to set a goal that will take weeks or months of sticking to a rigid schedule. Instead, it’s more likely that you’ll stick to plan if it feels less intimidating. If your goal is as easy as visit website more often, or other similar aims, it will be more attainable.
Reach for the moon?
That old saying – reach for the moon and even if you fail, you’re land among the stars – might be idealistic, but there’s no harm in holding onto that mindset. If you start small and stick to attainable goals, it won’t be long until you’re closer to your dreams than you ever expected.