As we step into the new year, it’s the perfect time to look back at past goals and make new goals for the months ahead. Whether you want to call them New Year’s Resolutions or personal targets, setting achievable goals can be a great way to get yourself out of your comfort zone, push for more, and learn new things.
But goal setting is often a lot easier than goal keeping. In order to help ensure that you see your goals through to the end this year, be sure to set goals that are SMART: Specific, Motivating, Attainable, Relevant, and Trackable. Let’s take a closer look at each of these aspects of effective goals and how you can adjust your goal planning to make your goals SMART.
Vague goals aren’t particularly helpful, because you can’t say for sure when you’ve achieved them. Rather than making a goal to “go to the gym,” for example, it’s much more useful to make a specific goal of going to the gym at least twice a week. When setting your own unique goals, ask yourself if you have covered the who, what, where, and when of your goal.
This is the “why” portion, which you should also ask. If you’re not energized by your goal and eager to accomplish it for a specific reason, then it will inevitably fall by the wayside. Before arbitrarily setting a goal, ask yourself why that goal is important to you.
The fastest way to abandon a goal is to set a goal that is too large. When setting a goal, it’s fine to have your sights set on a big accomplishment, but be sure to set smaller, more attainable steps for yourself along the way. For example, rather than making a goal of gaining fluency in Spanish by the end of the year, set a goal of practicing Spanish at least 15 minutes a day, five days a week. Those small, incremental steps will add up quickly and help keep you on track for your bigger endgame.
Plenty of great goals simply aren’t useful for every person. Instead of setting goals that you think you should have for yourself, set goals that you know will benefit your personal and professional life as it stands right now. For example, it’s great to want to start your own company, but achieving a promotion at your current company and practicing better work/life balance may be more pressing and important concerns. Think about who you are today and what would benefit your life both in the future and right here and now.
If you’ve set goals that are attainable and specific, they should also be trackable. A simple and surprisingly effective way to keep yourself on track is to keep a chart where you can physically mark off steps on the path to your goal. For example, if you’re a writer, keep a one-page annual or monthly wall calendar where you can ex out every day that you write. Keeping the chain of exes going will bring significant motivation, especially if you’re a competitive person.