Have you ever had a goal for yourself, but you don’t know how to get there? Maybe you want to learn a new language or squat your body weight. Perhaps you want to do better in school or you want to be more positive every day. The thing is, making goals is easy; setting goals correctly is what’s hard. 

What is a goal?

A goal is an objective you want to achieve, and it can be anything from the small-scale (reduce screen time by 1 hour each week) to the big-picture (like graduating from school with a 4.0 GPA.).

Goals are important because they give you purpose and help you prioritize what to do during your day, week, and even year. Goals also give us a sense of accomplishment, pride, and satisfaction when we reach them.

An illustrated brain character wearing glasses and a cape blasting off like Superman on a dotted red background.
S.M.A.R.T. goals are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely.

Why Setting Goals is Important:

  1. Goals provide direction: To accomplish something, you must set a target to aim for and guide yourself there. Without a goal, you might wander in circles and feel stuck. With a goal in mind, you can focus on accomplishing specific activities to move yourself in the right direction. 
  2. Goals tell you how far you’ve been: Goals let you measure progress and milestones of how far you’ve gotten to your objective. If you accomplish several small milestones to reach your final goal, you’ll have a better understanding of how many remain and how much further you have to go. 
  3. Goals help you attain your overall objective: You can not reach your goal with one single action. You need many small actions to help get you there. Goals let you achieve your final objective by dividing your effort into smaller pieces that can add up to one significant result.
  4. Goals give you something to strive for in life: You will more likely be motivated to get work done if there’s a challenge beyond your basic level of expertise. 

Developing goals the right way

Setting goals is a great way to better yourself, but it’s important to do it correctly.

Here are a few things to remember when setting up your next goals. The best goals are the ones that embody these three points:

  1. Specific: Set a small number of goals and make sure they’re specific and clear in purpose. 
  2. Attainable: Your goals can’t be too hard nor too easy. They should be challenging but within realistic reach. 
  3. Accountable: Try Involving other people. When you have buy-in or support from others, it can also become their goals not yours; thus, putting more stake and responsibilities to accomplish your goal. 

Setting S.M.A.R.T Goals

So how do you set the right goals to succeed? There’s a specific goal-setting tactic that helps. Make sure your goals are S.M.A.R.T.—specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound.

S: Your goal should be specific

Your goal should be clear and not broad. When your goal is distinct, it tells you exactly what to expect and makes it easier to measure your progress toward the finish line. For example, “I want to sell more products by the end of the month” is better than “I want to make more sales.”

M: It should also be measurable

If you can’t tell how well your efforts work, how will you know when you’ve succeeded? If your goals can’t be measured, you’ll have difficulty knowing if you’re making progress. This can make it even harder to stay motivated when you have no milestones to celebrate.

A: Your goal should also be attainable

If it’s too hard or impossible to reach, then what’s the point? You need to consider whether a goal is realistic and reasonable based on your resources and abilities. The best goals will make you work harder to achieve them, but they’re not too extreme. Goals that are set too high can become meaningless, making you feel burnt out and give up along the way.

R: A goal should also be relevant

Does this help me achieve my long-term goals? If so, great! If not, think about changing it up. 

T: Your goal needs to be time sensitive

If your goal doesn’t have a real deadline then you can easily forget about it and let it slip through the cracks. Make sure that every goal has a deadline attached. This ensures that you’ll start working toward accomplishing it right away.

Don’t Over Do It

We all love to plan ahead and have upscaled visions about what we want to accomplish in the future. Sometimes, we’ll get too motivated and set too many goals at once, which makes it harder to achieve any one of them. The last thing you want is for your goal to collect dust in the attic.

 When setting goals, keep them at a manageable amount. When you finish with one or two goals, create another one to take its place. 

The following tips can help you set the right amount of goals to prevent burnout over time:

  1. Pick two to three goals to invest your time in: Let’s face it, you’re not Batman. You can’t do everything, and you probably don’t have an Alfred to help out with house chores so you can focus on major projects. Stick with two or three goals. More than that can water down your efforts and cause mental stress in the process.
  2. Pick the most relevant goal: Some goals will bring you closer to your vision. Your life can be busy, and there’s not enough time to do everything. That’s why it’s important to focus on goals that are essential to your long-term success.
  3. Visit your goals and edit them: Life is anything but straightforward, so regularly monitoring your goals is essential in making sure they’re still relevant to your lifestyle.

Goal setting and reality

Setting a few goals is a great way to shift in your life and progress toward something that matters to you. Remember to cut yourself some slack when life changes. That’s why it’s important to take stock of your goals regularly and ensure they’re attainable and practical for you.