Easy but Effective Goal Setting: The Proven Way to Do It

Setting goals is important in order for you to succeed, and can prove an effective way of getting through a particularly hard time of life. If you set goals properly, you may stand a better chance of proving to yourself that you can achieve. One tried and tested technique of setting goals is the SMART method, in which each letter stands for a quality of a successful goal: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely.

Specific. To make your goals achievable, you need to know precisely what your goals are. It is easier to aim for a target which involves writing down three things you can be proud about each day, for example, than an unspecified number of things. To make your target specific, use these techniques: ask yourself what your goal is, why you’re trying to achieve it, and how you will achieve it. Make your goal easy and clear to understand.

Measurable. To make your goal something you can clearly say you have achieved, it needs to be something you can measure, with a clear end. An example of this would be to aim to pass a specific exam in Spanish, rather than aim to just ‘learn Spanish’. Moreover, your goal could be split up into several constituent parts, to enable you to measure your progress towards your goal. So if your goal was pass that Spanish exam, you could spend a set number of extra hours on a module from the related Spanish language textbook per week, and test your own progress at the end of each week.

Attainable. Your goal needs to be something you can give yourself enough time to succeed in attaining. If you try to learn how to paint in two weeks you might be pushed for time, which may compromise your will to believe and achieve. But if you aim to satisfactorily paint a portrait in, for example, six months time, you could give yourself enough time to achieve your goal and reward your efforts.

Realistic. By that same token, you need to make your goal realistic. This means that, not only ought your goals to have enough time for their completion, but they ought to be actions you can achieve. This does not mean your goals ought to be easy, however: the whole point of goals is to stretch you to achieve something you couldn’t do before. So if you aim to run a marathon on an injured leg, that might be considered unrealistic, and any failure might risk you losing the motivation to continue trying to achieve your goal. But if your injured leg was stopping you from walking your dog, you could aim to recover from that instead, and enjoy the feeling of walking again!

Timely. You need to establish a timeframe in which to complete your goals. This is to encourage you to make a start, and to take steps to complete your goal. It’s easier to work towards a goal when you can count down towards its fruition!

Follow these steps towards smarter goal setting and you could show yourself that you can achieve.


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These suggestions have a track record of working for people in this situation. We recommend that you try these tips and see which ones are suitable for you. You may find that other approaches work for you too. Depending on your circumstances, a consultation with your GP may be advised.

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