How to Set SMART Goals (and follow through)

A lot of people set goals for themselves- but how many of them follow through? Everyone has that project they’d like to tackle or 10lbs they’d like to lose. These may be great goals, but they can be hard to stick to. If you’re looking to increase your follow-through one of the first things you should do is examine your goals. Goals you are serious about should become SMART Goals. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic,and Time Limited. Using these five elements allows you to create goals that you will actually follow through on.

  1. Specific A pit-fall that many people fall into when goal-setting is not making a goal specific enough. They may say ‘I want to lose weight’ or ‘I want to exercise more’, but don’t get around to pinpointing exacts. A more specific goal would be ‘I want to lose 4lbs this month’ or ‘I want to exercise 3x per week’. Many SMART Goals are actually a list of smaller goals that turn into a schedule that outline how to accomplish your goal. For example ‘I will go to the gym for 30 minutes MWF’ is a really specific goal, and even better if you plan out when in the day you have time, what you will do there, etc.
  2. Measurable Making a goal specific will often make it more measurable. Being able to measure your progress is important in keeping up with your goals. If your goal is to write an essay by the end of the week you may measure it by saying you’re going to write 5 pages every day or complete certain steps by a certain time like have the outline done on Monday. This will let you know if you’re on track with your overall goal and allow you to adjust as needed.
  3. Achievable Next make sure the goal is achievable. This is a big one! Know yourself and the speed at which you are able to get things done. If you start small and succeed this primes your brain to keep going. Setting big goals is awesome, but keep in mind that you need to start somewhere. Say for instance that you want to give up junk food or quit smoking. Its a good idea to give up junk food at certain meals or stop smoking at certain times of the day first. Then you can move on and expand those goals as your sense of accomplishment grows. Goals that you accomplish over a longer period of time are also more likely to become habit and stick around.
  4. Realistic Something to consider when thinking about how to achieve your goal is if that goal is realistic. Think about everything going on in your life and determine if this is something that you have the time to pursue it at this time. Its okay to prioritize your goals. Maybe you would love to learn a new language and then travel to that country to practice it, become a prima ballerina or earn a million dollars. All of these things are things that you can accomplish if you have enough time and resources to devote to them. Make an honest assessment. Are these things that you are able to prioritize? Choose your most pressing goals to pursue first. You may even want to make a ‘bucket list’ of sorts with goals to consider when you’re able.
  5. Time Limited The fifth and final element of setting a SMART goal is to make your goal time limited. Deciding on a time limit for your goals helps you to maintain a sense of urgency. You may want to pick an important event or date to set your goals around. If nothing is coming up you can use a month or year to guide you. Some things also have built in time limits, like applying for college. Use these time limits to motivate you to keep working hard at your goals.

May all your goals be SMART Goals. Happy Achieving!