At this time of year, you’d have to be living under a rock not to hear people talking about their goals. Yet when people start the year all fired up about their new year’s resolutions, why do so many fail to achieve them?
The truth is that many people don’t know how to set effective goals. One of the most widely used goal-setting techniques is SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-bound. But even SMART goals are missing one vital ingredient for success – motivation.
When you think about it, Achievable and Realistic are quite similar in philosophy. So I’d recommend renaming the A in SMART. Why not inject some passion into your goal-setting by choosing goals that are Attractive?
To stay focused on a goal and put the effort in, you need to feel excited about it. Here’s how taking a fresh approach to setting SMART goals could increase your success this year.
Get specific about what you want
Studies have proven that when you set specific goals you’re far more likely to achieve them. It’s not surprising really. Picture setting yourself a goal of exercising more regularly. It’s a great aspiration, but is it enough to show you what you need to do each week? Probably not.
The clearer you are about your goal, the more likely you are to make it happen. In this case, setting a goal of exercising four times per week would be far more effective. Better still, allocate the four days and types of exercise so you really know what you want your goal to look and feel like.
Know how to measure your progress
One of the best ways to stay on track is to see the progress you’re making. So you need to know what success looks like and how to measure it.
Let’s take learning a language as an example. When the end goal is so far off, it’s important to see how you’re getting closer to it in tangible terms. You might measure your progress by completing each level of the language course, or by being able to perform increasingly more complex tasks, from reading a children’s book to asking for directions.
Set attractive goals that motivate you
Now add some real drive to your goals. What is it that you really want? You’ll notice that this question is not about what you feel you ‘should’ do. That’s because passion is a far greater motivator than obligation. You’ll also feel more excited about a goal when it’s aligned to your beliefs and values. So put your goals to the test.
And remember to frame your goals in the positive. If you’re initial thoughts are that you want to stop doing something, flip that around. It’s much easier to get excited about what we want, rather than changing something we don’t want.
Make your goals realistic
Ever been water skiing? With too much tension your tow rope can yank you right out of your skiis. Yet, if the rope is slack, you simply sink into the water and go nowhere. In the same way, your goals need to have the perfect balance of challenge and attainability.
When your goal is too hard or too easy, it’s more likely that you’ll give up. In ‘Setting Goals: Who, Why, How?’, S. Turkay (2014) discusses how the right level of challenge increases motivation through enjoyment, creates a sense of competence, and improves self-efficacy.
Use time-bound goal posts
A goal without an end date is more likely to roll over unaccomplished, year on year. Turkay surmises that the best way to fuel motivation and persistence is through a combination of short-term and long-term goals.
A great example is saving for a home deposit. It’s a powerful long-term goal, especially when owning your own home is so Attractive. But when it comes to pay-day, such a significant amount can seem too far away. That’s where setting smaller savings goals for each month can give a sense of achievement that keeps you motivated.
Finally, remember that good goals strategies are flexible
Now you know how to set SMART goals that you’re excited about achieving. That’s great – and the first step towards success. Just remember that life can be unpredictable, and it may mean your goals need to change from time to time. That’s ok. A good strategy is always flexible.
Sometimes you may need help setting your goals or forming a plan to achieve them. That’s where we can help. To find out more, contact Fleur on 0404 559 244 or email firstname.lastname@example.org