There are few human endeavors that succeed without investing the time and effort to develop realistic and inspiring plans and goals. Learning the skill of goal-setting will help you to establish new life habits and make changes that last. This applies to any type of change, including improving your physical, spiritual, or relationship wellness.
Once you have a clear, compelling vision of where you want to go, it’s time to set some SMART goals to help you get there. SMART goals are behavior goals. Ask yourself, “What behaviors do I need to be doing consistently in order to get where I want to go?” A first step is to set a 3-month behavioral goal. Then step back and set weekly goals. Weekly goals will be small, achievable steps that get you toward your 3-month goal.
The acronym SMART will help you in your goals setting process. Goals need to be:
Ask yourself all the “W” questions: Who, What, Where, When, Which, and Why.
How will you know when your goal is reached? Ask yourself ‘how much,’ how many,’ etc.
What exactly are you doing?
If the goal is realistic, success will follow. Quick wins and victories are important to get a momentum going and your confidence high. Nothing hinders change more than setting unrealistic, unachievable goals. (‘Lose 10 pounds in the next week’ is not a realistic or healthy goal for most of us!)
Set a deadline. Open-ended goals tend to not be reached and you’ll default to ‘I’ll do it tomorrow,” which as we all know never comes.
If you follow this formula, anyone should be able to look at your goal and know exactly what you are going to be doing. Here are a couple examples of weekly goals that poorly written vs. SMART goals:
Example 1: Fitness goal
Poor: Exercise more this week.
SMART: Walk on treadmill for 20 minutes at a minimum heart rate of 70%, three days this week (Monday, Wednesday and Friday) at 7am before breakfast.
Example 2: Spiritual goal
Poor: Read my Bible more
SMART: Read 2 chapters from the book of Acts each morning at 7:30am while I drink my coffee; Journal on the daily passages in SOAP format in my journal book.
Do you get the idea? Here are a few more tips regarding goal setting:
1) Don’t overwhelm yourself with too many changes and new goals at once. Generally 3-5 weekly goals/new behaviors is plenty.
2)Ask yourself, “On a scale of 1-10, how confident am I that I can accomplish this goal?” If you can’t rate yourself at a 7/8 or higher, your goal is probably too ambitious and you may be setting yourself up for failure. Stretch yourself, but don’t be unrealistic.
3) Celebrate your successes! Give yourself credit for each step you accomplish and you’ll be well on your way to your vision before you know it!