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What is a SMART goal?

How to set better goals and achieve them all

Close your eyes and imagine your future. What do you see?

More importantly, how did you get there?

Setting goals isn't the only pathway to success, but it does make the journey and all of its setbacks a little more manageable. A popular view of success says that it takes planning, thinking, and action to achieve greatness. Goal setting checks two out of those three items - planning and thinking. The action part is up to you and your willpower to stick with it. Planning and thinking aren't only beneficial to achieve your long-term goals but are also essential for your short-term goals. Good short-term goals and good long-term goals require you to follow the same planning pattern, but just on a different timeline.

Without goals, it's challenging to sustain long-term aspirations. Setting goals with well-defined steps helps you stay focused and allows you to understand and visualize your progress from when you first started. Also, ticking off your benchmarks is a great way to stay motivated!

By setting goals, you're taking control of your future and not just letting it go by. You can't just say "I want to be fit" and wait for it to happen - achieving your goals is a process that takes time and effort, and it all starts with sitting down to set them.

The golden rule of goal setting: Set goals that actually motivate you

When you set goals, make sure they inspire you. Goals are personal, and they should encourage you to improve. This doesn't mean that every goal you'll set will create as much enthusiasm as the last. Suppose you dream of going to law school and becoming a lawyer- you'll still need to write college applications and put in hours of study time to get good grades. Though studying may not be your favorite part, it's a small goal that needs to be achieved to be able to succeed in your long-term vision of defending your future clients in court. Achieving goals requires commitment, and how you prioritize your time and effort is closely linked to your personal achievement.

Tip 1: Having trouble figuring out what goals to start off with? Try creating a personal value statement

Do your goals add value to your life? A personal value statement is a short but specific description that describes who you are and what is most important to you in your life (your values and beliefs). If you want to take it one step further, you could also create a personal vision statement. A personal vision statement describes what you want to accomplish in your life in both a personal and professional setting. By trying out these 'present and future me' exercises, you'll have a better understanding of what goals will bring you happiness and which you should prioritize first.

Next step? Create a goal action plan (SMART goals defined)

Sometimes we get so caught up and preoccupied with the results and the glory of the finish line that we don't put in the effort to plan the steps between idea and success. By recording every individual step needed to reach your goal (whether manually or electronically) and then checking each step as you complete it, you'll be able to notice a nice steady progression. This is especially important if your goals are long-term.

Time to set SMART goals. This process is designed to make your goal-setting 'smarter,' more efficient, and easier to follow. But what does SMART goal stand for?

The SMART acronym stands for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time-Bound

Set SPECIFIC goals

The goal must be clear in purpose. If your goal is too vague, it will be more challenging to know if you're heading in the right direction or achieved it. The first step is to make sure that what you're trying to achieve is a well-defined objective. Ask yourself the five Ws to gather the proper information while setting:

  • What is the goal?
  • Who is part of the goal?
  • Where is the goal taking place?
  • Why are you creating this goal?
  • When will your goal happen?

Example of a specific SMART goal: I want to eat healthy breakfasts every morning before work so that I don't eat the free unhealthy snacks in the company kitchen.

Set MEASURABLE goals

Setting a measurable goal means that you have a way to measure if you're progressing or achieving your goals. It's the answer when your friends ask: 'How do you know it's working?". This could be by creating a spreadsheet, logging into a habit tracker, or checking your fitness wearable, depending on what your goal is.

Example of a specific and measurable goal: I want to eat healthy breakfasts every morning before work so that I don't eat the free unhealthy snacks in the company kitchen. I'll log my breakfast foods in my nutrition app.

Set ATTAINABLE goals

Make sure that the goal you choose is possible. Don't shoot for the stars until you build your rocketship. Setting realistic but still challenging goals will help you achieve the desired balance of success versus effort and keep you motivated to continue on your trajectory.

Example of a specific, measurable, and attainable goal: I want to eat breakfast every morning before work so that I don't eat the free unhealthy snacks in the company kitchen. I can easily log my breakfast foods in my nutrition app after eating.

Set RELEVANT goals

The goals you set should relate to the direction you want to develop and improve in. This is when you honestly figure out the WHY for selecting a particular goal over another. Does it bring you closer to your dreams? A professional achievement? To happiness? This is the time to make sure that your goals match your personal values and visions.

Example of a specific, measurable, attainable, and relevant goal: To become healthier, I want to eat breakfast every morning before work so that I don't eat the free unhealthy snacks in the company kitchen. I can easily log my breakfast foods in my nutrition app after eating.

Set TIMELY goals

Set a sensible timeframe in which you can achieve your goal by! By giving yourself a deadline, your goal is put into perspective in relation to the other tasks in your day-to-day life. It will help you make a realistic plan of when and how long you can spend on it.

Example of a SMART goal: To become healthier, I want to eat breakfast every morning for the next seven days before work so that I don't eat the free unhealthy snacks in the company kitchen. I can easily take three minutes to log my breakfast foods in my nutrition app after eating before driving to my office.

By following these steps, you'll be crushing your 2021 goals in no time. Good luck!

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