I love to set up ambitious goals for myself and take on new challenges. I constantly want to improve my skills and gain new experiences. I’m constantly adding new entries to my bucket list. But sometimes I come to the realization that I’m spreading myself too thin. I can’t focus on one particular thing, which makes it harder to achieve any of my goals. If you’re facing a similar problem and can’t reach your goals, this text is for you!
How to set your goals?
That’s where you have to start. Formulating a goal that is possible to achieve isn’t as easy as you might think. We frequently come up with a dream in our head that is very disconnected from the real world. We imagine the end result but we can’t plan any concrete actions to achieve it. We have an idea or a vision of what we would like to be in 5 years, but we’re not sure how to reach this goal and what steps should we take. It can result in us constantly visualizing these dreams but not doing anything to get closer to it. Our goals might also be too unclear or not specified in time. It’s a very common mistake that can be an obstacle at the very beginning of the journey. Well then, how to set an objective to make it easier to realize it?
The SMART method of setting goals
Some of you probably heard of this method before. SMART is a way to formulate goals that makes it easier to realize them. It consists of the five criteria (their first letters spell SMART) that our goal should meet:
- Specific – the goal should be concrete and clearly defined. We should know exactly what do we want to achieve and figure out what do we need to do in order to achieve that. It’s good to find the answer to the following questions: what do we want do to, why do we want to do it, and how?
- Measurable – a well-established goal should give us a way to measure the results and monitor our progress. We should know what tasks do we have to complete during the process and at which point can we consider the goal as complete. “I will exercise 3 times a week and lose 5 kg” sounds more convincing than “I will move more”, right?
- Attractive – reaching the goal should be an attractive reward. After all, we need a way to motivate ourselves to complete the objective. It should bring us an appropriate gain. And so it’s worth to consider if the aim we set up really is important to us and if reaching it will bring us joy and satisfaction.
- Realistic – the goal should be possible to actually achieve. Although people do say that nothing is impossible, in this case it’s best to keep your feet on the ground and calmly assess our skills and predispositions needed for this task. It’s better to go for smaller and more doable goals that we actually have the time and resources to finish. Realizing them will fuel us to go even further and set the bar even higher.
- Time-limited – we have to set up a concrete date to realize our goal. Setting up a deadline will make us more mobilized to act and motivated to work consistently. The pressure of time makes us more effective. We’ll consistently realize the correct steps to keep going towards the goal. Without a deadline we can easily fall into the trap of constantly postponing the tasks.
How to motivate yourself to work?
If we set up our goal using the SMART method, it will be easier to plan our further steps. To work effectively and consistently motivate ourselves to keep working, it’s good to once again analyze the five criteria listed above. The aim has to be concrete and we have to know how to achieve it. It means we have to prepare a list of concrete tasks and figure out the schedule.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, so it’s better to focus on the smaller steps – the things we do everyday. With time they can bring tremendous benefits. A great idea is to set up a calendar, plan your day and consequently realize your goals. Thanks to this our goal will actually be measurable, and we’ll be able to monitor our progress. Controlling our steps and observing that we are actually moving forward will give us energy and motivate us to keep working.
From time to time we should also stop to consider if our goal is attainable and worth all the hard work. So it’s worth to think if our goal is still attainable and attractive. After all, there are situations that turn our world and current priorities upside-down. So it’s not impossible that the goal we set up some time ago could “expire”. It could be that it’s no longer attractive for us and we’re not happy at the prospect of realizing it. Perhaps something happened in your life that can make you modify your goal and adjust it to your current situation. Sometimes, even despite our greatest efforts, we won’t be able to reach the goal before the deadline. Life writes many unforeseen stories upon us and we won’t always be able to plan things perfectly. It could happen that despite having the perfect plan and realizing it consistently, some external factor can stand in our way. But it’s not a reason to break down and doubt yourself! It’s better to learn from your experience, modify your goal and keep going until we achieve it.
I know from my own experience that SMART is a useful method to set up goals that are actually more likely to be achieved. A realistic and well-made plan, consequent actions and monitoring your progress will usually get you the results you want. It’s worth to keep in mind, though, that you won’t always be able to realize your goal from the get-go. After all, there isn’t just one recipe for success and life can be full of surprises. But it’s important to set up goals that will bring us joy and to do everything we can to achieve that.