Getting what we want out of life doesn’t always come easy, and quite often we’re not even sure what it is exactly that we’re chasing in the first place. And even if you do manage to pinpoint what it is that you want, getting it can seem stressful or out of reach, and so it gets set aside for another time, or forgotten about completely. Setting goals is something we all know we should be doing, but many of us don’t – at least, not until it’s time for the annual New Year’s resolutions. One reason for this is that while setting a goal seems fairly straightforward, actually achieving it isn’t always so. But fear not, there are many ways to get where you want to be, and that’s what this post is all about – a tried and tested method for setting and achieving your goals, whatever they may be.
First, make it SMART.
You’ve probably heard the term ‘SMART goals’ before – it tends to be thrown about in most workplaces from time to time. SMART is the most well‐known and effective approach for setting and achieving goals, and can be applied to long, medium or short‐term goals of any kind. The first step in setting SMART goals is to figure out exactly what it is that you are trying to achieve. Once you have this clear in your mind, you can begin to break your goal down into achievable, bite‐sized pieces. So, what does SMART stand for? SMART is a clever acronym that allows you break your goal down into individual steps or thought‐processes.
A: Acceptable/ Attainable
R: Reasonable/ Realistic
T: Timebound/ Timely
Now, let’s take a look at these steps in more detail.
Setting specific goals is crucial if you want to succeed. And while many people prefer to ‘keep their options open’, setting vague goals isn’t going to get you anywhere fast. So, best to keep it specific.
When setting your goal, consider the following:
What exactly do you want to accomplish?
When and where do you want it to happen?
Why do you want it to happen?
Do you know how you’re going to get there?
Using action words like ‘increase’, ‘establish’, ‘reduce’ and ‘create’ can help to keep your mind focused on the specific outcome you’re aiming for. For example:
“I want to increase my annual salary to $60,000 within the next 12 months” as opposed to “I want to earn more money”.
Imagine you are playing a video game that doesn’t let you know your score, or even your progress. Where is the incentive to continue? Nowhere, that’s where. The same applies to your goals – how will you measure the results? And more importantly, how will you know when the goal has been achieved? Ensuring your goals are measurable allows you to know when you’re making progress, and that you’re on the right track. These two things will give you the motivation to take action. Ask yourself, how can I quantify the outcome? Can I put a dollar figure or other form of tangible result against my goal?
Setting attainable goals means setting goals that you believe you can achieve with just the right amount of effort. When your goal is slightly out of reach you will feel much more motivated to strive for it, rather than giving up because it is too hard (or too easy). You are likely to encounter some negative ‘I can’t do it’ thoughts during this phase of the goal setting process, but this is totally normal! Change can be scary, and if your goal isn’t challenging you then is it even worth doing in the first place? Make sure your goal is something you really want, and something that gets you feeling excited for the end result. A boring goal isn’t exactly the best motivator.
It makes sense that your goal should be realistic, otherwise you’re unlikely to even take the first step! The thought of achieving your goals should motivate you to take action, rather than leaving you feeling immediately defeated or wondering where to start. For example, if your goal is to ‘lose 20kg in 6 months’, not achieving this will definitely leave you feeling deflated, and you’ll probably just give up altogether and hit the snacks aisle. A more realistic goal would be to ‘increase my exercise regime from 2 sessions per week to 4 sessions per week’.
Timing is yet another reason to make sure your goal is realistic – you will only set yourself up to fail if you start out with an unrealistic goal and a tight timeframe. Setting yourself a deadline is a great incentive to get moving, but you need to make sure you have the resources available to achieve the goal within the set timeframe.
So, can you now see how setting SMART goals will increase your motivation and lead you to achieving exactly what you wanted? Remember, once you get serious about your goals, you’re going to get some serious results!
This post is by Open2Study's blog writer, Peta Brady.
Peta Brady is a freelance copywriter, editor, social media enthusiast, and general grammar pest.