Another year is yet again coming to a close. It’s around this time that we often look back fondly over the accomplishments and adventures of the year, feeling nostalgic and reminiscent. And as New Year’s Eve approaches, we prepare to celebrate and lift our drinks into the air in a toast to the year to come. But when that countdown finally finishes and we all joyously yell “Happy New Year!”, what comes next?
With the new year in front of you, it’s the perfect time to create new goals and new dreams to reach for. Goal-setting is so key to any plan of action; if you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll never get there. So why then does it often feel so difficult to keep those New Year’s Resolutions going past the third week of January? Perhaps the answer is that you weren’t setting the right goals in the first place. Using a handy acronym, here are five tips on how to set SMART goals that you can actually keep.
When you’re deciding on your goals, be as specific as you can be. Having a general, vague statement won’t help you much; if you’re not specific in the first place, it will be harder for you to define whether or not you’ve reached your goal in the end. Try to identify the five W’s of your goal as a starting point for narrowing down your idea.
Tools like vision boards (yes, I did just link to an online vision board about vision boards) can also help you to get inspiration and specific ideas for future goals.
Building in measurable outcomes to your goals is another key tip. This not only provides concrete evidence as to whether or not you accomplished the goal but also helps to motivate you throughout the process. Don’t just say “My goal is to be more active,” but say “My goal is to integrate activity into my day three times a week.” This way you have something concrete to work towards.
Make sure your goals are actually something realistic that you can attain given your resources and time. You want to still challenge yourself, but don’t make it something so large that it would be near impossible to fulfill (because the odds are that you won’t achieve your goals if they’re that lofty!).
For example, if your New Year’s Resolution is to get in better shape, don’t commit to five intense workouts per week to begin with. Maybe start off by committing to integrating more movement into your life using something like a sit-stand desk, Desk Pedals or a Portable FootFidget. All of these products help you to move more throughout your day, but they are easy to integrate when starting off. Don’t set yourself up for failure before you’ve even begun by picking something way outside of your range.
Make the goal relevant to you and your current life stage. If your best friend is passionate about business and his or her goal is to start one up themselves one day, don’t just adopt that as your goal too. Find something that has meaning to your life and is relevant to your interests; you’re way more likely to complete a goal that you are actually passionate about to begin with.
If you’re not sure what sparks your interest, try taking a personality test or something similar to help you discover your passions and start down the road to successful goal-keeping.
Create a clear-cut deadline for your goal. This will motivate you to keep working on it and will ensure that your goal doesn’t get lost or forgotten. If your objective is something larger that will take a significant amount of time, you can also create sub-goals and attach deadlines to those to ensure that you stay on track.
If meeting deadlines isn’t one of your strong suits, try one of these calendar apps to give you regular reminders and to discourage procrastination.
There you have it! Five tips to help you make SMARTer goals going into the new year. Whatever your goals may be, adhering to these guidelines will ensure that 2018 is your most productive year yet.
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