It is typical for many people to set up New Year’s resolutions for themselves this time of year. Maybe you’re one of those people. Perhaps you want to lose weight, eat healthier, read more, travel more, have a better work/life balance, make more money, or grow your family. Whatever your goals, it’s important to put some guidelines in place to set yourself up for success.
You may or may not have heard of S.M.A.R.T. goals before. It’s an acronym to help you make goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. When you have S.M.A.R.T. goals in place, you have a higher chance of achieving what you set out to accomplish!
Naming specifics in detail for the goals you want to accomplish will help you make your ideas more real. Saying you want to travel more is a nice idea, but if you want to have a better chance of achieving that goal, you first need to plan where you want to go. What time of year? For how long? Will you travel with others or alone? And so on. Build your goal with specific visuals in mind. You can even do an online search of places you’d like to go to and save or print pictures from that place to keep those visuals in focus. Use a calendar for planning. Search for airfare and hotel prices. A goal with no specifics in place is just a dream. So in order to make a dream a reality, create those specifics!
Making measurable metrics for your goals is going to help you know when you’ve achieved what you set out to do. If you are wanting to read more, find out how often you are reading now. How do you want that number to increase? What do you want to read? Books? Articles? Professional journals? How many? How often? I actually had made this a goal for myself in 2017. I read things online, but I wanted to read more books for personal and professional growth. I had maybe read one book in the previous year. In setting measurable goals for myself, I wanted to read a book every other month; six books in one year. I picked out the books I wanted to read and either got copies from the library or listened to them on audiobook while I drove and traveled. It worked out wonderfully! I ended up reading eight books in 2017 – more than I anticipated accomplishing! Measuring exactly want I wanted helped me crush my goal!
Achievable goals are absolutely crucial to ensuring your success. If you set a goal to make a million dollars this year when you work in a full-time job that pays you a $40,000 salary, it’s unlikely you’ll make a million dollars without another source of income or scoring big at a casino or winning the lottery. Not to say it’s not possible, it’s just not probable. Examples of achievable financial goals would be along the lines of putting $100 in your savings account every month, paying off a credit card or student loan, or cutting back on unnecessary spending and allocating that money towards other priorities. Don’t set yourself up to be disappointed by creating an unattainable goal. You have it in your power to achieve what you set out to do!
Along these same lines, a realistic goal is very similar to an achievable goal. To use a relational example, if you want to have a better parent-child relationship, how will you be realistic in moving forward? If your child is a stubborn toddler who doesn’t yet have the cognitive development for rational thought, it is unrealistic to expect a more mature relationship to grow when they are unable to do so. Being realistic, you’ll need to get on their level – maybe even literally. Kneel down beside them to talk with them one on one. Make sure you listen to their needs so they can practice listening to yours. It’s important to note that you can only get as far in a relationship as the person who is lowest on the totem pole. So it’s realistic to meet that person where they’re at instead of expecting them to rise to meet you. And if you’re having a crappy day where you may not be at your best, be realistic in treating the situation as such. Give yourself some grace and forgiveness and remember tomorrow is another day to keep improving. The reality for all of us is that we will mess up, backtrack, and sometimes even fall flat on our faces. Defeat does not necessarily mean you haven’t made progress. I was once told that “failure is just feedback”. It’s information to show you that what you tried didn’t work. So you get back up and try something different. Imparting this reality in your goals hopefully keeps you motivated to keep pushing forward because failure is inevitably part of the process for success.
Lastly, timely goals are helpful for achieving what you want without dragging them out and never accomplishing them. Wanting to grow your family by having a baby is a huge decision many couples face at some point. But if you keep waiting for “just the right time”, you’ll be well into retirement. Yes, there are of course some hurdles for family planning like finances, job security, health insurance benefits, and so on, but many of these are not permanent roadblocks (please note: this is not including medical and physical barriers like infertility – that’s a whole separate issue). How will you address each of these challenges in a timely fashion to grow into the family you envision? Imagine yourself five or even ten years in the future and visualize what your family looks like. If there’s a child in the picture, how old is that child? When making timely goals, you have a “deadline” of sorts in place to keep you accountable.
Making “smart” goals will help you stick to the plan of achieving your dreams. However, if you need some extra assistance in goal setting, please contact us at 720-381-2755 or by email at tradewindstherapy at gmail dot com. We’d be happy to help you move forward in any way we can.