With the new year approaching it’s a safe guess that I’m not alone in thinking about what goals I would like to achieve within the next year. I don’t like to call them “new years resolutions” because we all know that those have a bad rep for not lasting. But maybe the reason they don’t last is because they aren’t fully developed! To be successful in achieving a goal, you need to not only decide what the goal is, but decide what steps you need to take to make sure you achieve it.
There are five key components to making a goal that you can achieve. They make up a convenient little acronym: SMART.
So first your goal needs to be Specific. I will give you an example to use with all five steps. My husband and I have a goal to save money. Most of us have that goal in some form. But just saving money is not a specific enough goal. So, we decided we want to save $500 dollars. Now it’s specific.
Measurability is easy with monetary goals, but other goals like fitness or eating healthy, or learning something new can be a little harder. Ask yourself how much? how many? If your goal is to exercise, making it measurable would be “I want to exercise three times a week, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.” I suggest keeping a journal or a chart of some kind to measure things that you can’t just see your progress in like you can a bank account. If you can’t measure your progress, you won’t be able to tell whether you have achieved your goal!
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Attainable and Realistic go together. My husband and I chose saving $500 more dollars because that is realistic and attainable for us right now, with the amount of money we make at our part-time jobs. If we were to set a goal to save up $100,000 to buy a house this year, it would not be attainable. We don’t even make that much money in a year, and we certainly have expenses that need to be paid. Think about how you will achieve your goal. For us, this means not eating out unless we have gift cards. We will be cooking at home a lot more often because we know it will be worth it to have the extra savings.
The last thing to think about when setting a goal is, is it Time-Specific? If you don’t set a time by which you want to achieve it, you will likely forget or lose enthusiasm. A lot of people choose the end of the year for their new years resolutions, but how about taking it one step at a time. Also, circumstances change, so shorter periods of time are often easier to go by. We decided we wanted to save up our extra $500 by May 1. Once May 1 rolls around, we will have our savings goal achieved and can then set a new goal based on our new circumstances. If your goal is to write in your journal every day, try just going from January 1 to February 1, and then re-set the goal in February if you want to continue. That’s a lot easier than saying “From now on I will write in my journal every day for the rest of my life.” I mean, that’s a good goal too, but it’s much harder to measure.
So, now you know how to make some realistic, SMART goals! We can all inspire each other! In the comments below, I would love to hear what some of your new goals are?!