We all like to set goals. Short-term, long-term – they help to keep us on track, continuously moving forward to whichever fitness, travel, career or family ambition we have next. Our goals regularly reflect where we are in our lives, but sometimes it can be hard to keep motivated when working towards change. Habits slip and excuses pile up as we tell ourselves, “maybe next year.” So why, when we are so determined to reach our goals, do we then repeatedly fail?
Goal setting is not always as simple as making the decision to work towards a change. We can set our sights to accomplish any number of tasks, but without the proper preparation and time, we may find we keep falling short. How many of you have made a New Years resolution that didn’t stick? The first two weeks of January may have started out with a bang and a flourish, but come mid-February did you find you were back to your old routines? So often we miss the planning stage of goal setting and jump straight in. While it is great to get started while motivation is high, this stage is crucial in setting us up for long-term success and ensuring continued development towards our goals.
Introducing S.M.A.R.T.E.R. goals.
S.M.A.R.T.E.R. is a fantastic tool for helping us to set goals that are exactly that – smarter. Having a S.M.A.R.T.E.R. goal means that your goal is specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-bound, evaluated and reviewed. Addressing these seven factors can help to make our goals seem more attainable and real, encouraging us to continue down the pathway of success.
S – Specific
In order to achieve your goal, you need to be specific about what it is you want to achieve. The more specific, the better – so give your goal a number or value figure. Write your goal down on paper or somewhere you can see it regularly, and be sure to cover your basis of when, where, why, and how. This will help to make your goal more ‘real’ and less obscured. Specific goals are also great at helping you to remain focused as you work towards achieving them.
M – Measurable
If you are unable to measure a goal, it can be very hard to see progress. This assumed lack of progress can then have a negative effect on our motivation – especially if we believe we are putting lots of work in, but not seeing results. Check in and measure your progress regularly, whether it’s jumping on the scales, checking those figures in your bank account or looking back to the beginning of your journey to see how far you’ve come.
A – Achievable
This factor is especially important to consider when setting out your goal. Goals are meant to push us, but they shouldn’t be unachievable or too easy. Setting a goal too far out of reach can be discouraging and demotivating as you work towards achieving it, while in contrast, a goal that is too easy may end up boring and be forgotten. Be sure to set your goal within your abilities and limits. Be honest and open, but don’t be afraid to challenge yourself a little throughout too – you might just surprise yourself with the result!
R – Relevant
Your goal must be relevant to you, your values, your beliefs, and what you want to get out of life. If you are setting goals to make someone else happy, the chances of you experiencing frustration when working towards this end result are likely to increase – and with it, the chances of you giving up on your goal. Setting relevant goals is also a great way to keep in line with your bigger picture, helping to keep you moving down that pathway of success.
T – Time-Bound
Having a time frame on a goal is crucial to succeeding. Similar to ensuring your goal is measureable, making sure your goal is time-bound will help to keep you motivated as you work towards achieving it. Depending on the goal, your time frame might be a day, week, month or year – but make sure it gives you enough time to achieve the results you want. Without a time-bound goal, we can often lose track of what we are working towards, as there is no pressure to continue forward.
E – Evaluated
Constant evaluation can be very beneficial when working towards any goal. Just like in life, it is important that we are doing things for the right reasons and that they remain specific to us. As we work towards completing a goal, we can use these steps to check back in and make sure we remain on the right path, or can re-adjust our end goal to suit if need be. Evaluate how you are going to continue reaching towards your goal, and assess if what you’ve done so far has helped you to get there.
R – Reviewed
Especially with long-term goals it is important to review your end goal regularly, both before and after completion. Similar to evaluation, reviewing our goal as we work towards it helps us to check in and make sure we are still striving towards something that resonates with, and is important to us personally. Likewise, after completion of a goal, reviewing where we have come from can help us to set further goals moving forward and consider the steps that helped us to achieve in the first place.
So with these steps now in mind, what are you waiting for? Set your goals and get started today! Read more about getting started with self care.