Happy New Year, everyone! The last time I wrote I referred to New Year’s Resolutions and SMART goals. I’m a huge believer in creating SMART goals and the difference this practice can make in our success when it comes to achieving our desired outcomes. SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.
Specific: What will be different when you’ve completed the goal? What steps or actions will you need to take?
Measurable: How will you measure the change? What do you need to track?
Achievable: Is the goal realistic or doable? Do you have the things you need to complete it?
Relevant: Does the goal fit with your larger plan? Is it in conflict with other goals, either yours or someone else’s?
Time-Bound: What is the timeline for completion? Create checkpoints along the way to ensure you’re on track and make necessary adjustments to the plan or timeline.
When thinking about a goal, use the SMART outline to make a detailed strategy that will support goal achievement. Think about what you want to see change and how you will notice that the desired change has taken place. Consider beginning to track your behaviour now to establish a baseline so you can tell if change has actually happened later. It’s also important to step back and consider how our goals fit within our life, especially if we share our life with a partner or someone else who will be impacted by our efforts. If my goal is to save for a vacation and my husband’s goal is to pay off the mortgage early, our goals will be in conflict. Failure to address this will likely mean failure to achieve goals, arguments about the goals, or both. Finally, by identifying a timeline and checking progress along the way, we create accountability and planned opportunities to review and adjust as necessary.
If the goal seems impossible, barely achievable, or only achievable under ideal circumstances, break it into smaller chunks and start with the easiest one. Practicing this approach to goals builds momentum, and momentum = motivation. When we successfully complete something we set out to do we immediately feel a sense of reward. This good feeling is as close as we can get to the experience we call motivation, so it’s really important to make that happen as early and often as possible.
If you want to set some SMART goals, we can help!
Blog Author -- Jodie Voth, RMFT
Jodie is a full-time therapist and owner of Voth Family Therapy. She enjoys working with teens and motivated adults who are working through transitions and relationship challenges.