How many times have you set yourself a goal, only to fail and then beat yourself up for it? This is a problem that most of us can relate to. January, with the hype of new year’s resolutions, is a prime time this. Fortunately, we can solve this problem by learning how to set good goals and hold ourselves accountable to taking action.
Here are five steps to setting and achieving your goals.
1. Get SMART.
First of all, we want to make sure we are covering the five key elements of good goal setting by making our goals SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-framed. Think of this as a way to integrate planning into goal-setting. The next four tips will cover some ways to make sure we’re checking off all of the five elements.
2. Break Your Goals Down.
We often set goals that sound something like, “I want to eat better,” “I want to get in shape” or “I want to be happier.” These are all fine conceptually but in practice, they are hard to achieve because they are vague and abstract. What does it mean to eat better, get in shape or be happier? When broken down, the goal around eating better may sound something like this: “I want to prepare and eat home-cooked meals Monday-Friday.” This is now Specific and Measurable because you have a clear action aligned to eating better, and a way of measuring if you’ve done it – you either have, or haven’t. It’s also time-framed because you’ve assigned set days to action this. To further Time-Frame this, you could also specify how long you plan to continue this for.
3. Break Your Goals Down Again. And Again!
Once we’ve broken our broad goal down into one that is more Specific, we can break it down further to identify smaller steps. A bit like having a project plan, we can move on to listing all the steps that we can take towards achieving this goal. The more Specific goal to prepare home-cooked meals Monday-Friday may be broken down into making a meal plan and writing a shopping list on Saturday and going shopping on Sunday so that when Monday arrives, you are prepared for action.
4. Problem-Solve and Troubleshoot.
Once we have clear goals, let’s be honest with ourselves about everything that’s going to get in the way of us achieving them. Here, we’re looking to focus on making sure the goal is Achievable and Realistic. Things have stopped us before and will stop us again. But if we know what they are, and we learn from our experiences, we can put strategies in place to manage this.
Give some though to what has stopped you achieving this goal, or something similar, before and what you can do to manage this. If working long hours and lacking time and energy has been a barrier to cooking, batch cooking on the weekend may be a solution to this.
5. Review Your Goals.
We can often fall into the trap of setting a goal, having the initial buzz from the intention to work towards it but then lose momentum when it comes to action and find that days, weeks or even months have passed us by and we’ve lost our focus. When you set a goal, set a Time-Frame for reviewing your progress with this goal. If you’ve not made the progress you want, repeat the initial 4 steps again to help get back on track.
Bonus Tip: Remember Why You Want This.
A goal should be set because it matters and it important to us. When you’re going through these five steps, keep in mind why you want to work on this, what is going to motivate you, and how you will feel once you’ve achieved this.