When it comes to making changes in your life, the go-to subject that people often revert to is goal setting. While goal setting is an essential piece of the puzzle when it comes to change, sometimes we do ourselves more harm than good by setting unrealistic goals. Real change begins with setting achievable goals. Setting multiple small, achievable goals that lead to an ultimate goal is an easy way to make progress with less risk of feeling defeated when a goal isn’t achieved.
How do I set achievable goals?
Achievable goals can be set using the SMART goal method. SMART goals are designed to develop goals that are achievable and that hold you accountable by being time-based.
When setting a SMART goal, ask yourself the following questions:
- What do I want to do?
- Why do I want to do it?
- When do I want to do this?
- How am I going to do this?
Goals that are specific are naturally easier to achieve. If the goal is known and unambiguous, then the path to get there is clearer. The goal should be written simplistically and clearly define what you are going to do.
Goals should be measureable so that there is no question as to whether or not the goal was accomplished. Measurable goals provide tangible evidence that the goal was achieved. The goal can be measured as a whole for the entire project or goal, but can also have smaller measures built into it.
This is one of the most difficult parts of goal setting, as many times we set our goals too high, and cannot achieve them because we do not have the skills, knowledge, or abilities to achieve the goal. Goals should challenge you, but you should be able to achieve them. Almost any goal is possible to achieve, but the timeframe must be established appropriately to allow enough time for you to carry out the steps to achieve your goal. With small, realistic goals, you may one day achieve something that would have seemed impossible when you started out. On the other hand, if you begin with an impossible goal, you are not likely to be motivated to even try to achieve the goal in the first place.
R: Realistic & Relevant
A goal must be realistic, which is a reiteration of it being achievable, but it must also be relevant. If a goal is not relevant to the overall, or bigger picture, then it will not empower an individual to try to achieve it. In fact, if the goal is not achievable nor is it relevant, it may actually demotivate and individual and leave them feeling defeated. Relevant goals will drive an individual or a group forward, toward the ultimate or end goal.
Goals that are time-based are more effective because they have a deadline. When you make a commitment to a deadline, it establishes a sense of urgency. Instead of being a goal that you want to accomplish one day, it becomes a goal that will or won’t be accomplished by a specific date. When you have a date set, failure becomes more real than if the goal has no deadline, as it can always be completed some time in the future. Having a deadline allows the individual or group to focus their energy toward accomplishing the goal before time runs out.
An example of a SMART goal could be as follows:
I will walk for 30min each day for the month of October.
The goal is specific in that it specifies the activity, the duration, and the time frame. It is measurable because either the 30 min is completed daily, or not. It is achievable because 30 minutes is a reasonable amount of time to spend walking, and can be broken up into segments on busy days. The goal is realistic, and relevant. It is also time-based as it must be done in October.
Setting goals give you a way to measure your success, and something to hold you accountable for. Making your goals achievable is the first step. Small goals are the stepping-stones to life accomplishments.
“Life is meant to be embraced, enjoyed and fully lived, not merely endured!”
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