The new year is always a great time for some self reflection and evaluation. I like to take the time to think about all that I was able to accomplish during the previous year, and then set some goals for the future. Goal setting is something that I think can feel intimidating to most people. It can seem like you are setting yourself up for something that you might not be able to accomplish. These feelings of apprehension or inadequacy are perfectly normal, and I would argue are necessary. Setting goals should hurt a little. Trying to better yourself should cause some discomfort. Most people in this world live their lives as close to the comfort zone as possible, and I’m afraid that just isn’t going to produce growth. If we truly want to get a little bit better every single day, we have to step outside of that comfort zone and find ways to better ourselves. No one is going to do it for us.
So how do we set goals to really produce the outcomes we are after? When setting goals, I try to use the SMART format. SMART is an acronym that stands for:
Specific- simple, sensible, significant to you. Use the 5 W’s (what do I want to accomplish, why is this important, who else is involved, where is it located, what resources or limitations are involved)
Measurable- meaningful and motivating, how will you know when it is accomplished?
Achievable- How realistic is my goal?
Realistic – relevant, reasonable, and results based. Is this the right time for this goal? Does it need to be broken down into smaller goals?
Time-bound- time based/limited/sensitive. Is this going to take me 6 weeks, 6 months, 6 years? Find a time frame that pushes you, but remains realistic.
I find that if I use the SMART format when setting my yearly goals, I am much more likely to succeed. Don’t forget to continually evaluate and review the goals you’ve set. Sometimes your plan may need to change, and that’s okay!