Mental Well-Being

Goal Setting 101

January 4, 2022

It’s human nature to set goals for ourselves. It’s also perfectly normal to fall short of them, especially if we’re setting goals a little higher than they need to be. That’s why we like to rely on the S.M.A.R.T. method of goal setting. S.M.A.R.T. is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-Bound. If you leverage these goals, you may up your odds for success. Perhaps more importantly, you’ll discover a new method to guide your goals as you strive for new achievements.

Be specific

It’s easy to say you’re going to exercise or read more books. Such open-ended goals aren’t particularly productive, though. Instead, note specific details of the things you hope to accomplish. Do you want to be able to run a mile without stopping? Can you challenge yourself to read a new book each month?

Set measurable goals

You want to be able to measure your progress as you pursue your goal. This gives you something to take pride in even before you complete the journey. It also gives you an endpoint and motivation. Suppose your goal is to save more money. That’s fine, but it’s too easy to forget about that goal when you see a fabulous pair of shoes on sale. But if your goal is to put aside $100 a paycheck, you’re keeping yourself honest about whether you can really afford the shoes.

Make your goals achievable

Let’s look at the time-honored resolution of getting in shape. Many of us have started a new year with this goal. In the spirit of optimism, we tell ourselves we’re going to run a marathon within 12 months. We walk on the treadmill for 30 minutes one week, 40 minutes the next. As we approach an hour on the treadmill, we find ourselves struggling to catch our breath. We throw up our hands and sink back into the sofa with a nice bag of chips. S.M.A.R.T. goals don’t set the bar too high. Instead, they rely on realistic goals, like walking five miles or logging 10,000 daily steps for a month. Once you achieve those initial goals, you can work on the next steps.

Set realistic goals

Make sure your goals are set upon today’s reality. S.M.A.R.T. goals can be reached by improving or adjusting our current habits and improving our current skills. You may have a dream of running your own restaurant, but you’ve never actually worked in a restaurant. A more realistic goal might be to spend a few months waiting tables to see if you want to make a living in that industry.

Give yourself a time frame

Deadlines can be a great motivator, assuming they’re realistic. Do you dream of writing the next Great American Novel? Promise to write an hour every day and reassess your goal after three months. Do you want to lose 20 pounds? Commit to losing five pounds a month, which allows you to check yourself regularly on this weight loss journey.

Setting goals is an important step in making healthy changes in your life. S.M.A.R.T. goals are one path to reaching them. And remember: If you fall short, you’re not a failure. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and set new some goals!