Making SMART Goals
Ready or not, 2018 is moving quickly along and with it our new and improved goals for the year. It’s time to dream big and expect some stuff to happen! This could be your year to clear student loan debt, begin a new business, become a homeowner, learn a new language, commit to a healthy lifestyle, or just be a better friend. Whatever your goals are for the year, there’s nothing worse than noticing that by March you’ve forgotten the goal or lost your momentum. Say this out loud: I CAN DO THIS! Your dream is possible. It just needs a plan. The most common mistake in setting goals is to make them vague and unrealistic. Once you have identified your goal, like a bull’s eye on a target, use the acronym SMART to guide you in your goal setting. SMART goals are:
What do you really want to accomplish and why is this important to you? Without a clear and specific focus on what you are trying to achieve, you will lose motivation and lack direction in moving towards accomplishing your goals. The key to being specific is having a well-defined finish line for your goal. For example, wanting to “be healthy” is an awesome aspiration but not at all specific. How would you know that you have achieved “being healthy?” For one person, reaching her health goal might mean that she decreased her body fat percentage by 5% while another person would want to increase her vegetable intake from 0 times a week to 5 times a week for a span of 3 months. Know exactly what you want and why you want it.
Once you have a goal that is specific, it is time to track your progress. It’s so easy to see the vision of the achieved goal, but what steps are you going to take to get there? This is the time you whip out a notebook dedicated to this goal and create a tracking method to document your progress. If your goal is to organize your entire apartment, how will you measure that? Maybe you are dedicated to spend the first 3 hours of every Saturday to organizing your space beginning with the bedroom. In your notebook, you could write down the dates you plan to organize with the time you can dedicate towards it and then start checking it off once you complete it. Measuring your progress will keep you accountable and prove just how much time you are dedicating to your goal.
Is your goal actually achievable or completely unrealistic? This is not meant to discourage or deter you from setting lofty goals, because you should be setting goals that make you feel uncomfortable by how daring they are. Your goal should be challenging enough to require hard work and persistence but still remain possible. If I have never ice-skated before in my life, my goal shouldn’t be to qualify for the Olympics in figure skating by 2022. It just ain’t gonna happen! With that being said, don’t make your goals so simple that you don’t feel a healthy bit of anxiety and excitement when you think about achieving them.
This step is to ensure that your goal is worthwhile and important to your life and the life of others. Basically, does this really matter right now? Maybe your dream is to be able to play the guitar, and that’s so completely awesome and acceptable, but does that fit in with your current direction in life? If you are focused on starting a business and this is your year to do so, maybe starting to learn how to play a new instrument is not so relevant at the moment. Sometimes, there’s nothing wrong with our goals, but if we let any dream sweep us away, we can completely miss the big picture. Remember, just because a goal isn’t relevant right now, doesn’t mean it will never be relevant. Write down your dream and wait on the right time to put it into action. Only you can make this decision.
Your goal needs an end time. When do you think you can reasonably achieve this goal by? Every goal needs a target date so that it doesn’t linger indefinitely, never to happen. When you put a date to when something is due, you will have an urgency to complete it, just like when you had to turn in your high school book reports. Would you have ever read Dante’s Inferno and written 10 pages on the literary style if your teacher hadn’t set a due date? The answer is no. The answer is always no.
Use the SMART goal technique this year, and get ready to surprise yourself! You are capable of big achievements if you plan smart and stay the course. Obstacles and excuses will always be there to make you doubt your dream. If you are ever feeling discouraged, go back to your initial motivation. Remember why your goals are important to you and why they matter. You got this.
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