How to Set Goals You Can Actually Accomplish

Goals, Smart goals, set clear actionable goals, setting realistic goals

Setting goals can help us feel more fulfilled and achieve greater success both in our professional and personal lives. A goal provides an endpoint to work towards and can range from anything as small as “Try a new restaurant” to “Get a promotion”.

When setting goals, consider using the SMART goal format. A SMART goal is:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time Bound

Instead of simply stating, “I want to lose 20 lbs this year”, be specific. How are you going to lose 20 lbs? Are you going to walk around the block once a day? Start bringing your lunch to work? Reduce red meat intake to once a week? Larger goals may seem out of reach. If this is the case, set milestones. Break the goal down into parts and celebrate the small wins along the way. In the weight loss example, focus on the first 5 pounds, then the next 5 pounds, and be sure to reward yourself in some way each time you hit a milestone, like by getting a pedicure for example.

Once you decide on the desired result and how you’re going to get there, ask your self “Is this goal measurable”? In this case it is, 20 lbs is the metric by which we are measuring success. Keep in mind, the metric doesn’t always have to be a specific number, it could be Yes I did this or No I didn’t do this. Just make sure it is clear whether or not you accomplished the goal.

Next decide if the goal is attainable. If we say we want to lose 20 lbs by next week, we probably aren’t going to be able to accomplish that goal. It’s important to set goals that will stretch and challenge us, but creating goals that are completely unattainable will just set us up for frustration and failure.

Is the goal you’ve set relevant? If you don’t need or want to lose weight, then setting a goal to lose 20 lbs isn’t relevant to your situation. Be sure to set goals that mean something to you, represent things that you want to do in areas of your life that you would like to improve.

And finally, ensure the goal has a time limit. When do you want to lose 20lbs by? That big trip in August perhaps? The end of the year? Indicating a specific end date will help you hold yourself accountable.

Periodically review your goals throughout the year. Are you on track? Are the goals you set still relevant? If you were aiming for a promotion at your company, but no longer work there, it’s time to revise that goal.

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