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New Year Resolution: Realistic Goal Setting


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Why is it important to set goals?
So you want to make a change. Say, for example, your vision is “I want to eat healthy,” “I want to exercise a little bit everyday” or even, “I want to finish that book that I’ve been meaning to read.” These are certainly achievable goals, but the problem lies in going from 0% to 100% which may make it seem like you need to climb a huge mountain. The size of the mountain may mean that you are too overwhelmed, see it as too difficult, or have thoughts of failure before you even begin. However if you have the right tools (and a little patience and persistence), you will be able to reach as many goals as you set for yourself. The key to achieving goals is about creating S.M.A.R.T goals. 

“A goal properly set is halfway reached.” – Zig Ziglar

S.M.A.R.T. goals?
S.M.A.R.T. is an acronym commonly used for project management and goal setting; coined by George T. Doran in 1981. The descriptions of S.M.A.R.T. is as follows:

  • Specific: goals should be well-defined and clear

  • Measurable: goals need to be measured, so you know when you’ve reached the goal.

  • Attainable: ensuring that you have enough time, resources and the ability to achieve the goal.

  • Realistic: unrealistic goals, which are setting the bar too high or rely too much on willpower may result in disappointment or the temptation to give up.

  • Time-related: goals that can be specified within a suitable time frame (not too much time, or too little time) will help you keep focused on the goal.

Why does setting up goals using S.M.A.R.T. work? 
The answer is that by using the S.M.A.R.T. method, you are setting up a clear framework for managing and defining your goal. S.M.A.R.T. goals help you stay focused, increase your motivation, and assist you to measure your progress towards your goal. Using the S.M.A.R.T. method also forces you to consider the checks and balances of your goal, helping to make sure that your goal is realistic and able to be achieved—setting you up for success.

General tips on setting goals and sticking to them
  • Allow for setbacks: Setbacks happen to everyone. It is important not to focus on the setback and remind yourself why you are trying to achieve this goal. Embrace the notion that you have not failed; you’ve just found one of the 10,000 ways that won’t work (Thomas Edison). It is important to recognise and reflect on the barriers between you and your goal and find a way to work around (or with!) them.

  • Know and remember your why: This is particularly helpful when motivation is lacking. Associating meaning and value to your goals is very important and can help you stay on track. For example, if your goal is to get more exercise, a useful why could be “to improve my mood and my overall health for my children.”

  • Mindset is important: Believe that you can achieve the goal and you will be more likely to follow through. Positivity and determination are key.

  • Set yourself up for success: Say you want to get up at 6 am and go for a walk in the morning. The best way to set yourself up for success is to place your walking shoes and clothes in a spot that are close by your bed the night before, so in the morning you are not wasting time searching for shoes or clothes to wear and end up deciding “not today”. Another example would be to make sure your water bottle is always filled with water if your goal is to increase your water intake. The key here is to make sure you have all of the resources you need to help you reach your goal.

  • Prioritise only a few goals at once: Making too many changes at once can be overwhelming and may result in a lack of commitment or cause more stress.

  • Enlist help from others: Talking to others about your goals can be motivating and can help you keep accountable. If you are going to tell your best friend that you have committed to giving up coffee, the next time that you are at the café with them, not only will you more than likely remember to pass on the coffee order, but your friend will likely help you keep on track.

  • Rome wasn’t built in a day (step by step): It is good to be ambitious, but large goals can be discouraging long term. If you are trying to run 5km without ever running before, it will seem overwhelming. Try to pace out your larger goals with smaller goals (and celebrate each milestone!).

Other resources:
Examples of S.M.A.R.T. goals

Template for creating a S.M.A.R.T. goal

More information
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Written by Celeste – ADAVIC Volunteer

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