We have all set goals. Goals are a natural part of human nature. They are meant to propel us forward to an improved state of being.
You’ve been told to stick to your goals…and that is HARD. I bet the evidence of failed attempts at making change are all over your home (hello unused yoga mat in my garage!).
Here’s the thing. Sticking to goals is hard.
But that is because goals are the desired end result in our journey to change. What we need to stick to is the process we take to achieve our desired outcomes.
Think about Dorothy daydreaming about somewhere over the rainbow. Setting goals without a strong, foundational plan is just a daydream. Because when that tornado hits and all of a sudden you’ve got career demands and family responsibilities swirling around it’s hard to know which way is up.
The modern pace of life, and the expectations that come with it, can spin you around until you are decidedly not in Kansas anymore. Maybe you are still in that dead end job or still trying to lose that baby weight. Maybe you don’t recognize yourself anymore because you have moved so far adrift from your passions.
You want change. You might even need it. Whatever the case, it’s time to get started. Keep reading.
A plan, with direction and context, is essential to breaking out of the tailspin and living your best life. Whether they be life goals, career goals, long term or short term goals – effective goals will keep you on that yellow brick road to the place you want to be.
I’m not talking #goals here. I am talking goals that will take you from where you are to your highest self. The only difference between hashtag aspirations and a real life-changing journey is the actionable plan you create.
Below I will share with you my in-depth 6-Step Guide to Achieve Your SMART Goals. Download my FREE Goal Setting Action Plan and let’s get started!
What is a Goal?
A goal is a desired outcome. It can be small and simple (i.e. to drink more water every day) or lofty and amazing (i.e. to grow my business into a multi-billion dollar empire). Either way, GO YOU!
If you have ever rolled our eyes through a company training where an enthusiastic Linda from HR goes on for days about goals then you know that the anatomy of a goal is pretty much settled science. In order for goals to be achievable, they have to be SMART.
S – Specific: A goal that is specific gives you a clear definition of what you are planning to achieve. Ask yourself, “What exactly do I want?”. The more specific the better.
M – Measurable: A goal that is measurable relies on some data, measurement, or documentation to show progress. Ask yourself, “How will I measure my progress? How will I know I am moving in the right direction?”
A – Attainable: In the context of your life, career, or relationship, is this goal actually possible? This, of course, is different from a goal that is currently beyond your reach but totally possible with perseverance and planning. Dream BIG, go ahead!
R – Relevant: A goal is relevant when it answers a questions, solves a problem, or contributes to the situation you are trying to change by setting the goal. Ask yourself “What is the purpose of this goal? Why am I taking these steps?”
T – Time bound: Put your feet to the fire! A goal that has a specific timeline and ticking clock is more likely to be achieved. There is nothing like a deadline approaching to kick your butt into high gear!
SMART GOAL EXAMPLES
Here are a couple examples of SMART goals. I will use two different formats. Feel free to use whichever feels more comfortable for you.
SMART GOAL EXAMPLE 1
By the end of 2019, I will complete the local Rock ‘n Roll Marathon in under 4 hours by training 5 days a week for 6 months.
This goal states specifically what I want to accomplish: run the Rock ‘n Roll Marathon in my town. I provided a measurement by which I can gauge my progress by stating that I want to finish under 4 hours. The goal is attainable and relevant because I have determined that I have the resources of time and physical capability to train for 6 months, 5 days a week. This goal is time-bound within the year.
SMART GOAL EXAMPLE 2
Specific: I want to pay off $10,000 on my auto loan.
Measurable: I will pay at least $200 a month on that debt beyond my minimum payment.
Attainable: I can achieve this by lowering my monthly expenses through cancelling unused and unnecessary subscriptions, limiting eating out to twice a month, and drinking coffee made at home.
Relevant: I need to pay off this debt to give me the ability to save more money for a down payment on a new home.
Time bound: I will pay off the debt within 28 months.
SMART Goals in Context: 6 Step Guide to Achieve Your SMART Goals
When you set a goal and set out to tackle it, what happens next doesn’t happen in a vacuum. To be successful at smashing your goals, you must make a plan within the context of your life. Below I have created a six step guide you can use to take you from #goals to living your best personal or professional life.
Step 1: Find True North
When you try to find your way using a compass, the first thing you have to do is find North. This will provide context and orientation to your journey. This way you know where you are in relation to where you want to be.
In order to tackle your SMART goal you need to figure out where this goal fits in the bigger picture of this aspect of your life. Think of Step 1 as writing a mission statement for your change-making journey.
Let’s take the marathon running example from above. Running a marathon requires a fit and healthy lifestyle, not to mention a huge amount of time and discipline. When I reflect on why I want to run a marathon, I think of something like this:
North: I want to lead a healthy lifestyle that prioritizes fitness. I want to do so in a way that will consistently challenge my discipline and build my mental as well as physical endurance.
By taking the time to zoom out and look at your goal as it fits into the bigger picture, you will be motivated to keep moving in the right direction. You will see that as you smash that goal you are moving toward what you want on a higher level. Talk about motivation!
Step 2: Declare Your Purpose
Now that you know where you are headed, it’s important to understand why you are choosing this particular endeavor or change to get you there. What is your purpose? More specifically, what purpose does this goal serve in the big picture?
- Why are you choosing to run a marathon as opposed to committing to going to spin classes or hiking? All of those goals would fit in the direction of living a healthy lifestyle. But what is it about running a marathon that makes you want to take action? Maybe you want a medal. Maybe marathon training give you a lot of small victories that will keep you motivated to hit the pavement each day.
- Why work toward a promotion at work rather than start s side hustle to make more money? Maybe you love your job and the promotion would give you even more flexibility to accommodate your family.
Whatever your purpose is, it’s important that you identify it and keep it in mind. Because when the going gets tough and you want to hit that snooze button, remind yourself why you started in the first place.
Step 3: Outline Your Steps
Sometimes I amaze myself at how many excuses I can come up with to not do something. It’s too hot outside. I need to wash my hair. My kids were up all night. No clean socks.
Blah blah blah.
We can cut off those excuses by thinking ahead and being prepared. Identify the steps you need to take every day, week, month to achieve your goal. Be as specific as possible. Be honest with yourself and within those steps create safeguards against your go-to excuses (buy more socks!)
Here are some examples:
Monthly: visit the local running shop to get fitted for shoes and purchase new ones
Weekly: create a new running playlist
Daily: lay out workout clothes, socks, and shoes for the next morning’s run.
Step 4: Set Standards
This is where you keep yourself accountable. At the start, decide your standards and expectations for yourself. Since your goals will be measurable, establish now what you will do when you fall below or outside your measures. Will you just give up? Absolutely not! But you will adjust your strategy and keep moving.
Someone once told me in marathon training that some days you have a bad run. Just do it again tomorrow. That really helps me to adjust my mindset when I have a rough day.
Step 5: Identify Your Resources
Make a thorough list of all the resources you have at your disposal to help you on this journey. I want you to think about resources above and beyond financial resources. Of course, if your goal is to start a small business, you need capital. But you also might need to hire a babysitter occasionally to give you some quiet time to work. We all need a little help here and there, so find it!
Financial (start up cash, membership fees, tuition, etc)
Technical (is there an app for that?)
Social (runners club, small business meetup, church)
Step 6: Watch the Clock
Do you get the immense satisfaction that comes from scratching items off your to-do list? I know I do! It is so rewarding to have a visual representation of your progress, right?
The process of achieving your goals can take time. Months…years, even. So it’s crucial that you make note of your progress as time passes within your goal timeline for two reasons. First, you will see with your own eyes that you are moving closer to your obliterating your goal. Second, you will be reminded of how far you have to go and how long you have to get there…and you’ll get moving!
Try scratching tasks off a master to-do list, tick days off a calendar, create a countdown, move marbles from a “to lose” jar to a “lost” jar for every pound you shed. Whatever it is, make sure you can see it often and find encouragement from your progress.
The Last Thing You Need to Know
You are incredible. Never doubt that you can do anything you set your mind to.
Congratulations on taking real steps toward the change you want! I wish you all the best.
If you need a little extra encouragement , stop on by the Gleaning Meaning Facebook page and follow us on Instagram for extra motivation and support.
I’d love to hear about your goals and some steps you will be taking to keep on track. Drop a comment below so we can spread virtual high fives all around!
Hi, I’m Kat!
Thanks for stopping by Gleaning Meaning, where we share inspiration and empower modern women to be their best selves. Empowering other women is totally my jam and I am grateful for the opportunity to share with you!
I have a full-time career, a toddler, a newborn, a wonderful husband, and some REAL dark circles under my eyes. I wouldn’t have it any other way!
If you are anything like me, I bet you could used someone to walk alongside you in your journey through modern womanhood. Join me, friend. Let’s figure this thing out together.
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