The new year brings new goals and a renewed motivation to reach them. However, setting goals and accomplishing them can often be two different stories. Did you know your approach to goal setting can affect your success? We frequently aim to exercise more or eat healthier, only to find we rarely stick with it because the objective is too vague and that makes it easy to procrastinate. According to Forbes1, “Vividly describing your goals in written form is strongly associated with goal success, and people who very vividly describe or picture their goals are anywhere from 1.2 to 1.4 times more likely to successfully accomplish their goals than people who don’t.” As you set your intentions this year, consider making SMART Goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely.


Make your goals as specific as possible so you know what you want to accomplish. Address questions like who, what, when, where, and why. For example, instead of saying, “I want to exercise more.” A specific SMART Goal would say something similar to, “I want to go for a 20-minute walk after dinner on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.” It’s easier to meet goals that are more well-defined.


Use measurable terms in your goal setting so you can track progress. The example used above is measurable because it specifies how long and the total number of days per week. By the end of the week, you’ll be able to look back and know if you have been successful. Quantifiers like time, distance, or total days can all be examples of tracking and measuring.


Be sure that your goal is attainable and realistic. Consider your current schedule and season in life because these can be constantly changing. Take a moment to think about possible obstacles and how you will work around them. You want your goal to challenge and help you grow but also make it practical enough for confident completion. As life changes, don’t be afraid to adjust your goal. We easily give up because it feels like we’ve fallen off the wagon. Instead, try updating your goal to align with your present schedule and priorities.


Keep your goals relevant. Do they align with your priorities and values? Are they meaningful? What is your motivation level? Answer these questions to ensure your efforts match. Then, revisit your approach anytime you notice priorities shifting.


Establishing a timeline can help hold us accountable for the goals we want to reach. Set a precise start date. You don’t need to make an end date, especially if you’re working towards long-term changes, but you can set check-in dates. For example, set a SMART Goal for thirty days and then reevaluate progress after one month. If things are going well, awesome! Keep it up! Or, if you’re struggling with consistency, adjust or alter your approach as needed. Adding a check-in date keeps your goals as pertinent and realistic as possible.

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