How To Set SMART Goals
With the New Year, many of us look forward to a fresh start and hope to achieve self-proclaimed resolutions. These could include better health, better finances, more time with our families, less stress, better eating, etc. Although we have good intentions of sticking to them, many New Year’s resolutions fail over time. Consider a different approach this year, and try setting a SMART goal.
SMART goals can make the difference between failed resolutions and real, lasting, behavioral changes. Goals help give direction and are trackable. Instead of vague resolutions, SMART goal setting includes clear milestones and is an estimation of the goal’s attainability.
Here are the details.
A SMART goal is specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time bound, giving you better direction and ability to achieve the goal. Goal setting is important within your everyday life. It comes down to prioritizing. Goals can be used in relationships, work accomplishments or leisure pursuits.
Specific – What exactly do you want to achieve? Saying you want to lose weight is not specific enough. Turn it around by saying, “I want to lose 15 pounds over the next 3 months.” Think of potential setbacks within your goal and how you plan to overcome them.
Measurable – This means breaking your goal down into measurable elements. Measurable goals can go a long way when refining exactly what you want. You may want to pay off half your car loan of $10,000 ($5,000) over the next year. This means you would need to set aside a little over $100 a week. By breaking your goal down into smaller increments, you can see your progress and know if you need to redefine your goal.
Attainable – Is the goal something you can complete? If you don’t have the time and resources to make this goal achievable, you will be more likely to fail. If your goal does seem impossible, start small and break it down, but make sure it is something that will challenge you enough to keep you engaged.
Relevant – The goal fits within the availability of resources, knowledge and time. Is it something that is important to you? Knowing why you want to do something is powerful. Maybe you want to start creating a to-do list to help develop your time-management skills
Timely – You need a finish line. Make sure there is a reasonable amount of time to achieve the goal. Keep it realistic and flexible. For example, “I will run Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings for 30 minutes and finish a 5K race in 12 weeks.”
Your goal needs to be personal. Do not try to accomplish someone else’s SMART goal because it may not have the same meaning to you as it does to another. Find a goal you are passionate about and stick to it. To help keep you on track, write the goal down and put it somewhere you will see it often. This helps hold you accountable and keep track of your progress.
If you are struggling where to start, consider the following areas of your life to get you started:
- Financial goals – Are you looking to get out of debt or save for retirement? Consider ways you can feel more financially stable.
- Spiritual goals – Start a daily journal, express gratitude or meditate.
- Physical goals – Go to the gym more frequently, strive to move more throughout your workday, eat less processed foods and more fruits and vegetables.
- Educational goals – Learn something new. Maybe that means reading more books, or going back to school.
- Family goals – Spend more time with your children, have a game night, eat dinner as a family or find time to engage in conversation with your spouse or significant other.
- Career goals – Where would you like to see yourself within your career? Are you looking for additional learning opportunities?
- Social goals – Say yes more often when you get invited somewhere. Join groups, they can be a great source of motivation.
Your SMART goal should be a step toward making a positive life change and something that will make you feel good. Remember, setbacks can happen. Do not let it discourage you. Instead, let it be an opportunity to re-evaluate your goal and adjust it if needed.
What is your goal for 2019?