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Setting Goals That Stick

I’ll be honest with you… I’m a dreamer. I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about what I want to do with my life, from the lofty (“I’m going to start my own political party!”) to the random (“I’m going to learn German!”). While there’s nothing wrong with lofty and interesting goals, our goals are only as effective as they are sticky. In other words, what can we *actually* accomplish and what will *actually* make us happy?

These can be pretty daunting questions, but you can easily start to tackle them by setting SMART goals – one at a time – and moving steadily toward where you want to go.

SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound.

Here’s a breakdown of each element:

  1. Specific: A specific goal is one that is clear and well-defined, with no room for interpretation. For example, “I want to improve my grades” is not specific, but “I want to earn an A in my math class” is specific. Now we have an exact target to aim for and know where to focus our energies.
  2. Measurable: A measurable goal has clear benchmarks and criteria for measuring progress. For example, “I want to get stronger” is not measurable because “strength” can mean all kinds of things. On the other hand, “I want to add 10 pounds to my squat” is very measurable – we can test where your squat is now, create and follow a program, and retest (i.e. measure) the lift along the way.
  3. Achievable: An achievable goal is one that is realistic and attainable given the resources and constraints at your disposal. It should be challenging, but not impossible. For example, “I want to become a millionaire in the next year” is (probably) not achievable, but “I want to increase my income by 10% in the next year” is achievable by seeking a promotion at work or finding a higher paying job.
  4. Relevant: A relevant goal is one that aligns with your values, goals, and priorities. It should be something that you are motivated to achieve and that will have a positive impact on your life or career. For example, “I want to learn Spanish” is relevant if you’re headed to a Spanish-speaking country and want to communicate better, but it may not be relevant if no one around you speaks Spanish and you’re not interested in foreign languages.
  5. Time-Bound: A time-bound goal has a specific deadline or time frame for completion. This helps to create accountability and gives you a clear target to work towards. For example, “I want to improve my overall fitness” is not time-bound (or specific), but “I want to improve my overall fitness by moving my body 3 days per week for the next month” is time-bound (and more specific!).

If you have *big* goals, it’s helpful to break them down into smaller pieces. This helps you stay motivated because you’ll consistently check off progress markers along the way, and it’s easier to course correct if something isn’t working. For example, if you’ve never run before and want to run a marathon, it’s best to start with a mile, then a 5k, then a 10k, then a half marathon, then a full marathon. Big goals take time, and smaller goals will keep you motivated and on track!

It’s also important to remember that goals change, and that’s okay! Sticking with the marathon example above, it’s certainly possible that you start running and hate it. That’s fine! But that doesn’t mean you can or should drop fitness altogether. It just means it’s time to reflect and set a new goal that feels more in line with where you are currently.

Need some help? You can chat with a Power Plant coach – for FREE – and we’ll help you get some clarity and set SMART goals. Together we’ll talk about what you want to achieve, and we’ll make a plan to help you get there. Just shoot us a message or click here to book a Free Coaching Call.

Wishing you all the best – and all the best goals! – for the New Year and beyond!

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