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Setting Achievable Goals You Can Feel Good About
Love them or hate them, new year resolutions are something of a tradition for many. With January comes the opportunity to start fresh, and people around the world resolve to change something in their lives for the better. But while so many people aspire to achieve ambitious goals, only 12% will ever experience the taste of victory.
In most cases, our resolutions fail because:
- It’s a resolution based on what someone else (or society) is telling you to change.
- It’s too vague.
- The plan is unrealistic.
How to Set Goals:
The best place to start is by aligning your goals with your passions, outcomes that mean something to you. These are your values.
1) Reflect on your Core Values:
Values-based living means that you choose goals, actions and habits that align with who you are, what you believe in and what matters most to you. There is little motivation for success if your goals don’t connect to your values. Of course, to make this work, you need to know and get a sense of the core values you hold. I recommend looking at 5 areas of your life including career, self, family, community, and spirit and consider how you’re living out your values in each of those areas. Giving this perspective will give you some ideas about what you might like to change or improve.
2) Set S-M-A-R-T goals
The SMART approach refers to goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely.
When your goals are SMART, you’re more likely to achieve them.
• Specific – Your resolution should be absolutely clear, specific and you shouldn’t be able to misinterpret or confuse it. You need to know what will be accomplished and the actions to be taken to accomplish the goal. It’s not enough to say "save more money” or “exercise more.” Instead we need to be more specific by answering “What are you saving for and how much are you planning to save?”
• Measurable – Now that you’ve set a specific goal, you will need a way to measure progress while working toward a larger goal. These are the numbers used with the goal to allow you to tack your progress. You’ll know if you’re accomplishing your goal if you’ve determined to exercise three times per week at least 30 minutes each session rather than simply to exercise more.
• Attainable – Can you achieve this goal? Is this goal realistic? What can you do to make it attainable? Does this goal require you to learn new skills or changing attitudes? Do you have the budget to get a gym membership or are there free ways of achieving the goal?
• Relevant – A relevant goal is a goal that relates to our values, dreams, and ambitions. How is your resolution relevant to your life? Why does it matter to you? Is looking good important to you or are you more concerned with exercising to maintain your mental health? Be honest and clear with yourself about why it matters that you put energy and effort into the attainment of this goal.
• Timely – Give yourself a time frame for your goal. Do you aim to achieve this goal in 3 months, or one year? It can be helpful to break up a longer time frame into smaller chunks to stay motivated.
Examples of SMART Goals:
1. SMART goal for running a marathon
Specific: I’d like to start training every day to run a marathon.
Measurable: I will follow a recommended training regime based on km/day.
Attainable: I’ve already run a half-marathon this year, so I have a solid base-fitness level.
Relevant: I value my health and wellness, and this goal will help me sustain that.
Time-bound: The marathon is a year away, so I need to be ready by then.
2. SMART goal for building a better relationship
Specific: I want to build a better relationship with my father.
Measurable: I’ll talk to him once a week over the phone for at least ten minutes and meet up for breakfast one Sunday per month.
Attainable: We live close to each other, and I recently improved my work-life balance to spend less time at work and have more time for my relationships.
Relevant: I want to strengthen our bond and understand my family members more, starting with him.
Time-bound: I’ll implement this plan for three months and then reevaluate.
3. SMART goals for saving money
Specific: I want to save $1500 for emergency fund
Measurable: I will save $300 per month
Attainable: I will work extra 2 hours every day and spend less by eating out only twice a month
Relevant: I would like to have financial safety and security and feel more relaxed
Time-bound: I will keep to this plan for five months.