Everyone wants to get better at something, and goals are a great way to do that! A goal can be set for all sorts of reasons; to improve one’s health, social interactions, work ethic, or financial standing, just to name a few. Goals make the world go ‘round! Unfortunately, though, goals are frequently short-lived and quickly abandoned. That is because people often set goals in a manner that is not conducive to making progress.
Have you ever set a goal then struggled to meet it? Many of us have likely experienced exactly that on multiple occasions. Failing to meet a goal can be discouraging, but be assured that this does not mean you are incapable of self-improvement. You may simply need to adjust the way in which you are setting your goals.
So, how should we set goals? A smart goal is clearly defined, achievable, and time-oriented:
Clearly defined. It is impossible to make progress if we don’t have a specified end result and a plan to get there. Perhaps you’ve decided you would like to develop a closer relationship with your family by visiting them more often. That is a good goal, but it needs to be more specific. You could start by asking yourself some basic questions. How often would you like to visit? When will you visit, and for how long? After considering the details, your more specified goal may be to visit your family on the last Saturday of each month. Goals are easier to meet when we can clearly see the path to achieve them.
Achievable. Speaking of achieving our goals, we also need to make sure that our goals are realistically achievable. When first setting a goal, feelings of motivation are often high which can result in self-placed expectations that are out of reach. It is important to consider your own personal circumstances and temperament. What amount of effort can you sustain no matter how tired or unmotivated you are? Referencing the example used above, it is a good thing to want to spend more time with your family. However, visiting your family every single weekend would quickly lead to burnout (and, likely, loss of sanity). Small, consistent steps will always lead to better outcomes than taking one giant leap then stagnating.
Time-oriented. Choose a date you would like to reach your goal by. It becomes increasingly easier to procrastinate or even neglect our goal when we don’t have a time frame in mind. This is especially true of long-term goals that require consistent, repeated effort over time. Of course, the time frame, too, needs to be reasonable. If you have a large goal, you may need to break it down into smaller steps and assign each of them their own time frame. Doing so will provide accountability and help you to stay on track.
All of us want to improve at something, and you can if you set goals for yourself that are clearly defined, achievable, and time-oriented!