Goal setting and monitoring your progress through the year is a great way to achieve the goals that mean the most to you. These steps and tips to set SMART goals will guide you on a path to success in 2023.
As each New Year rolls around many people will identify one or more New Year’s resolutions. We want to better ourselves and move forward in a positive direction. When January 1st comes around, it feels like a fresh start and time to turn over a new leaf.
The most popular resolutions each year are losing weight, exercising more and stopping smoking. It doesn’t take long before we get back into our old habits and our resolutions have gone by the wayside. Last year you may have given up on those goals early in the year, if so you’re not alone. Actually, 80% give up on those resolutions by the 2nd week of February.
How to Write SMART Goals:
To help you create goals that will really assist you in accomplishing more, here are five criteria that will help you document your goals. SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Timely) is an acronym that will assist in your goal development.
Make sure your goals are Specific:
Each of your goals should be as specific as possible. If you want to work on your home, be specific about what you would like to accomplish. Do you want to paint? What room or rooms? Do you need to purchase new furniture? What specific pieces do you need to replace and for what room? The more detail that you add to documenting your goals the better it will be.
Each goal needs to be Measurable:
Each goal will also need to be measurable. How will you measure if you have attained your goal? If your goal is to lose weight, how will you measure that? Is 1 pound a success or is it 10 pounds that you really want to lose? Is your success criteria a number of pounds on the scale or a specific size in clothing the goal you really want to set?
Make sure your goal is Achievable
Make sure each of your goals is achievable. There is no reason to “bite off more than you can chew” or set yourself up for failure. If you’ve never exercised, or it’s been a while, start by setting smaller goals that you will be able to attain. If you’re just returning to running, for instance, consider completing a 5K for this year’s goal and save that marathon for a future year’s goal. Successfully completing a smaller goal will give you the confidence to keep going, and you’ll be able to set more advanced goals in that category for many years to come, while still learning about yourself.
Are your goals Relevant to you?
The goals must also be relevant to you. Is this goal important to you and what do you want to accomplish? If your goal won’t make an important change in your life, maybe it’s not really a goal you should spend your time and energy on. Is your goal to learn a new language, learn a new dance, how to cook a new cuisine or to work on your car; is this goal important to you and will it change your life for the better? If you’re just as happy taking your car to a garage, then maybe learning to work on your own car isn’t the best goal for you to spend your time on. There are plenty of other goals to consider that will matter to you.
Ensure your goals are Timely or Time Bounded
What time frame do you want to complete your goal in? Do you want to lose those 5 pounds by the end of January or by the end of the year? Without setting a time frame for each goal, there is no way to know when you’ve successfully completed it! Setting that goal deadline also keeps you motivated to accomplish this goal and frees up your time to work on something else.
5 steps to goal setting:
1. Analyze what you want to accomplish
Brainstorm all that you would like to accomplish in the future. What do you want to complete short-term and long-term? What is important to you to accomplish in the coming week, month, year and beyond?
If you had a goal last year that you didn’t accomplish and it’s still on your list, analyze what went wrong. How can you modify that goal to better meet your needs and ensure it’s attainable? Did you set a goal to lose 25 pounds and not achieve it last year? What can you do differently this year? Maybe you need to focus on losing 5 pounds initially or add a different type of exercise to your routine. As Einstein said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.”
2. Document and categorize high-level goals
After completing your brainstorming session, document each goal into a category that is important to you. One study found that people who write down their goals are 42% more likely to succeed than those who do not. I find by categorizing my goals, I’m able to set and improve all areas of my life. I like to document my goals in the following categories (modify this list to fit your needs):
- Financial goals: Reduce or get out of debt, start saving for an emergency fund or retirement, or save a certain amount per month.
- Health and Fitness goals: Eat more vegetables, lose weight, increase exercise, or run a marathon.
- Personal development and training goals: Learn a new language, learn a new hobby, and take classes that will better your career outlook.
- Giving and charity goals: Tithe, donate to a charity financially, or donate your time/skills to a charity.
- Spiritual goals: Start a Bible study or new devotional, join a small group at church, or read the Bible this year.
- Career goals: Start a new career path, send out resumes, or take steps toward a promotion.
- Household goals: Paint the living room, start a vegetable garden, or replace a piece of furniture.
3. Prioritize your goals
Prioritize each of your goals, so that you can focus on a few at a time. The purpose of this activity is to be more productive and if you get overwhelmed or burn out from spreading yourself too thin, you’ll not only defeat the purpose but also open yourself up to failure. Once you attain a goal you will be able to focus on the next highest priority goal.
4. Ensure each goal meets the SMART goal criteria
As we have learned previously, setting SMART goals allows for a higher success rate. Ensure each of your documented goals meet the 5 criteria for SMART goals.
5. Create a plan for each goal
Document the steps you will take to meet your goal. As Antoine de Saint-Exupéry said, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.”
Additionally, if your goal is complex or long-term, it may benefit you to break it into sub-goals or milestones that will help you get to that large goal. If you are working to attain complex goals it is easy to love motivation when you don’t see enough progress fast enough.
If your goal is to run your first marathon, what steps will you need to take to accomplish it? Your plan may look like this: Choose and register for your goal marathon, choose your training plan, purchase new running shoes, and join a running club.
As you accomplish each milestone or goal, try to reward yourself in some way. These celebrations of your accomplishments will keep you motivated and moving forward.
Tips to Accomplish Your Goals:
Break down goals into manageable sub-goals
If your goal is complex, consider breaking it down into tasks or sub-goals. For instance, if you have set a goal to lose 25 pounds you may want to break that goal into sub-goals of losing the first 5 pounds or 10% of your body weight. Once you’ve lost the first 5 pounds, you will have learned what worked and what didn’t for you and have the confidence to work on the next 5 pounds.
Document tools or processes to accomplish goals
What do you plan to do specifically to ensure you achieve each goal? For our lose 5 pounds example, some possible tasks to attain your goal would be to track all food and exercise in the Lose It app and/or add an additional day of exercise per week. By documenting the goal and the process or tasks to get you there, you can later analyze what worked and what didn’t, and modify your process as needed.
Regularly check in on your progress
Regularly check in on your goals and the progress you’ve made on them. Are you on track to accomplish all your goals? Do you need to change anything to ensure your success? I like to make this progress check-in quarterly and monthly. This also allows me an opportunity to break down those large goals into smaller goals or tasks that I’ll be able to add to my monthly or weekly to-do list.
Revise goals or process
As you make your check-in, identify any changes or modifications that need to be made to either your goals or the process you are following to attain them. As some time passes, you may have gained knowledge or more detail on what you need to do to achieve your goal. At this point, document any modifications you feel are necessary. Additionally, you may identify a new goal that you want to work toward at a higher priority than a goal you are currently working on.
Get help if needed
Reach out for any help if you need additional expertise or support to reach your goal. If you need help staying on track, reach out and get the help you need. Find a supportive training partner. Find a book or Facebook Group to help you reach your goals.
What goals have you set to accomplish in 2023? What steps are you taking to ensure your success?