I love to set goals almost as much I love to start new journals. There’s something about starting fresh that appeals to me. It’s one of the reason I try to follow the 12 weeks year. Every 12 weeks I get to create new goals after evaluating the previous 12 weeks.
It’s always invigorating to brainstorm goals, ideas, and visualizing where I think I’ll be in 3 months. For the most part, creating concrete goals helps keep me grounded and focused and I don’t feel too overwhelmed about long term goals because I am breaking them up into smaller, more manageable pieces.
There are dozens and dozens of ways to create goals, but I really like the SMART system. It provides a firm structure, keeping you accountable for your actions, but more importantly, making sure you create goals that you have control over and are detailed. The more detail driven, the clearer your path. SMART goals can be used in any part of your life – career, health, personal growth, weight loss, etc.
How to Set SMART Goals
S – Specific
Often defined by using the five W’s. WHO is this goal for, WHAT SPECIFICALLY do you want to accomplish? WHEN – list your time frame. WHERE – not really relevant. WHY – Why are you setting this specific goal? Again, be SPECIFIC. How – How are you going to accomplish this goal?
When you’ve answered all these questions, you might have a very long specific goal. Condense it to 1 – 2 sentences. As you move through the SMART system, you’ll tweak this goal and at the end, your 1-2 sentence goal will satisfy ALL parts of the SMART system.
Example: I will fit into a size 6 jeans by September 30th because I want to slim down but don’t want to rely on the scale. I will exercise 3 times a week for 30 minutes and incorporate 2 new healthy habits a week.
M – Measurable
How are you going to measure your goal and your success? Will it be losing a specific amount of weight? Will it be creating an exercise plan? Will it be fitting into a smaller size? Will it lowering your BMI?
Example: I will fit into a size 6 jeans.
A – Achievable
Your goal NEEDS to be achievable but at the same time, force you to make changes to reach the goal. This is the HOW part of your goal. How are you going to achieve this goal?
Example: I will exercise 3 times a week for 30 minutes and incorporate 1 new healthy habit a week.
R – Relevant
This goal must be important to you. This is your WHY! Why now? Why is this goal important? Why this way of measuring?
Example: I want to slim down but don’t want to rely on the scale because the scale fluctuates so much.
T – Time Bound
Set a REALISTIC target date to achieve your goal. I LOVE LOVE the idea of the 12 week year. Instead of focusing on a year at a time, the concept is to break down the year into 4 pieces – 12 weeks. So, I try to create goals that can be accomplished in 12 weeks. It’s long enough to make some serious progress but short enough not to become overwhelming or boring!
Example: By February 2018.
What to Focus On First
I try to focus on 1-2 goals in each area of my life: Career, Family, Personal, Health. I pull my goals from my long term goals. I sit down once a year and create year long goals in each area. BUT, I start with bigger dreams. I fantasize what I want ten years out, then five years out, then three years out. Once those are set, I set 1 year goals using SMART goals. From there, I create my first 12 week year, breaking down those yearly accomplishments and dreams into smaller, easier to accomplish steps.
What if My Goals Change
Trying to stay the course for 12 weeks is much easier than a full year. Honestly, sometimes my goals change, and other times life just got too chaotic. I picked the goals that were most important and kept them as a priority. Some other goals just fall to the way side. It happens. Life changes our plans, and we adapt the best we can. There’s no rule to say you can’t change them or re-focus your attention. Make these goals work for you and your life!
Can Goals be Detrimental?
For as much as I love to set goals, I used to have a problem when I couldn’t reach the finish line. If I didn’t succeed, then I failed. In those black and white terms, I think goals CAN be detrimental.
I’ve changed how I view them and my idea of success and failure. Creating these goals help me find a path, it clears the debris so to speak. I can see what direction I want to take, and I have a solid grasp on the steps needed. If I follow those steps, I might not get where I want, but I’ve still made progress, I’m still further along than had I done nothing.
So, my advice is to create goals not as a success or fail, but create them to be your guide and know that by the time you reach your deadline, you should be further along than day one. It also is a good habit to evaluate your progress. What worked? What didn’t? How can you plan differently next time?
Just like with anything, change is rarely a straight path – accomplishing dreams and goals isn’t going to be either. Sometimes it’s one step forward and two steps back. Other times, you might be sprinting along.
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