I have set goals for years. I love the thought of writing them down, crossing them off, and having that happy, accomplished feeling when I reach my goals.
Honestly, for the first few years, I was never very successful. I would write them down (which is an important aspect of goal setting and if you do nothing else, please write your goals down! Doing this does help achieve them!) but then I wouldn’t do anything with the goals (they weren’t accessible, so I forgot about them).
Another piece of the problem was that I didn’t set S.M.A.R.T. goals. My goals were either too broad, not realistic, or not specific enough. I also had a problem with being held accountable, so many of the goals weren’t completed. One of my dreams with this blog is to help every intentional woman who visits here, succeed in her goals!
In order to do that, I’m going to share with you some of the strategies that have helped me become better at setting goals and at achieving them! S.M.A.R.T. is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-Bound goals. Below I will describe how each of these is important in succeeding with your own goals!
Make your goal clear and well-defined. Here are some examples of vague goals versus specific goals:
Vague: My goal is to exercise in January.
Specific: My goal is to exercise in January 4 times a week for 20 minutes each time.
Vague: I want to read more books this month.
Specific: I want to read 4 books this month. **When you make a goal specific it will be easy to know if you obtained your goal or not!
Can you measure your progress? There is a big difference between saying, “I want to lose some weight in January” vs. “I want to lose 6 pounds in January.” Wanting to save money for a house isn’t measurable, but wanting to save $25,000 over 5 years to put down on a house is!
Some good questions to ask to check if your goal is measurable are:
How many or how much? How will I know when I have accomplished my goal?
If your goal isn’t measurable, it is probably too vague. When your goal is measurable, you can track your progress and experience excitement as you get closer to attaining your goal.
Is your goal realistic and attainable? Another way of looking at this is by saying how will I get to this goal? For my family to set a goal to save $20,000 by next month is definitely not realistic or attainable! However, if I wanted to set a goal of $1,000 for a vacation a year from now and set up a budget of saving $83.33 for the next 12 months, that goal is both realistic and attainable. Even if I didn’t have $83.33 each month in my budget, I could probably find wiggle room in my grocery budget or cut back on eating out or work a few extra hours a month to earn that money.
A goal might hard to reach but yet realistic at the same time. Sometimes we really have to stretch ourselves to reach it. Those goals are the most rewarding to cross off as completed!
Is your goal relevant? Why is this goal important to you? Honestly if it’s not, you most likely aren’t going to complete it. If the goal has a benefit to you and you feel it’s worthwhile you are more likely to finish it.
One of my goals is to read 36 books in 2014. I love reading, I read almost all non-fiction so I almost always learn something from reading and I find it to be relaxing. My husband, Jason is not a lover of books. He loves information, whether it’s online, the news, magazines and other publications or the radio. He is NOT a book reader. He doesn’t enjoy it. For him to set a goal of reading 36 books in a year would not be relevant because it’s not important to him.
Is your goal timely? You need to have a target date to reach the goal. How often are you going to need to complete something to reach the goal?
The time-bound component of goal setting is one of my favorites because it gives me milestones to complete and I can cross something off my list creating momentum for wanting to continue on! In my example of my reading goal, I would need to read 3 books each month to complete the 36 books in one year. In a normal year, I read 4 books in January because that is when we go on vacation and I read in the plane. By completing an extra book, I know later ( for me, usually in July when we have 4-H and County Fair and we get nothing else done but that) that I can read 2 that month and still be on track.
Are you ready to set some goals for 2014? Do you want to take your family on vacation? Are you saving money for something that setting a goal for could help you get there realistically? My challenge for you is to begin thinking about what you would like to accomplish next year. Come up with a list of ideas this next week and see if you can turn them into S.M.A.R.T. goals. The beginning of the year is a clean slate and is the best time to not make a resolution, but to make a plan to accomplish something that you are passionate about!