A SMART Step-by-Step Guide to Goal Setting

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Most of us have a vague idea of what we’d like to accomplish, but few have true, concrete goals. A goal is analogous to a target. With a goal, you have a definite direction and purpose.

Though we’ve all been told how important targets are, few of us have ever been given specific directions regarding how to formulate an effective goal.

Give your goal these SMART characteristics and you’ll be on your way to success:

  1. Specific. Moving more is not specific. Walking 10,000 steps five days is week is specific. Be as specific as you need to be, but not more. If your goal is to have the job of your dreams, is it important to bring in a six figure income? It’s important to have a clear target, but too much specificity limits your options. Stick to the important characteristics.
  2. Measurable. If you can’t measure it, how will you know if you’ve achieved it? How will you know if you’re making progress? Goals that deal with money or bodyweight, for example, are easy to quantify. A goal to take a trip to Hawaii is also easy to measure, because you either did it or you didn’t. Ensure your goal can be measured before you get started.
  3. Achievable. If you don’t believe you can achieve your goal, you won’t pursue it. What would be the point? Start with a goal small enough that you believe it can be done within the timeframe you’ve set. Do you have the necessary resources and time to reach your goal before the deadline?
  4. Realistic. Make sure your goals are within reach and relevant to your purpose. Are you able to commit your time and resources to reaching your goals? Is it in line with your life’s purpose?
  5. Timely. Without a timeline, you might find yourself waiting for a long time because you’ll be unlikely to ever get started. Having an endpoint date creates focus and urgency. An effective endpoint date is no more than 12 weeks into the future. If your goal will take longer than that, break it into smaller goals. Anything beyond 12 weeks will cause your focus to wane. It’s far too easy to procrastinate with goals set too far in the future.

After you’ve created your goal, make a list of actions that will lead to attaining your goal. Too many of us spend too much time in our head to be successful. Things only change when new actions are taking place. Start at the end and work your way back to the present. Then review them regularly, taking a few moments of each day to read, re-write and visualize your goals.

When you’ve completed all of the steps, your goal should be a reality!

Goals are the key to reliable achievement. Ask friends about their goals compared to their results in life. Those with goals regularly outperform those without. If you don’t have any goals, hurry up and make a few! If your life isn’t fulfilling, a few goals can make the difference.

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