Sometimes what you need is a plan in order to truly find some calm. Too often we choose to fly by the seat of our pants, going through life on autopilot. This is understandable. Planning may seem like a luxury when you’re in survival mode and feel like you’re barely getting by.
However, you may find that setting aside a couple hours to quietly think by yourself is just the thing you need in order to give yourself some purpose and to create a guideline that can help you gain more control over your life. Goals are important to attaining success. Knowing how to set purposeful goals can make a tremendous difference in your outlook, boost your confidence, and provide the motivation you need to make changes that can improve your overall well-being.
A simple mind-shift and some tools can make a big difference on how you feel. Let’s take a look at goal-setting and how it can work to your benefit.
About SMART Goals
When it comes to setting goals, the acronym SMART can help you to make sure your goals will be as effective as possible. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. These are the guidelines you need to set goals that work, rather than simply jotting down wishes that never come to pass.
Let’s examine each letter closely and see how it can guide you in goal setting. First of all, your goals should be specific. That means you’ll want to add as many components to the goal as you can in order to be sure its definition makes sense. One of the most common goals many people have is to lose weight. However, this wish is simply too simplistic. It can’t guide you toward an actual achievement. Instead, you’ll want to add components to that goal. How much weight do you want to lose? In what amount of time? How will you do it? A better version is to say, “I will lose 10 pounds over the next three months by eating only real food and going to the gym at least three days a week.”
Next, your goal should be measurable. In our above example, you’ve decided to measure your goal in pounds and months. You’ve included both the amount of weight you will lose and the time frame you wish to do it in. Over the span of 12 weeks, you hope to lose 10 pounds. It’s a goal you can measure, which allows you to monitor your progress and stay on track. When you can see how well you’re doing, you feel motivated and you can make adjustments if you should fall behind on your progress.
Achievable is our next marker. This refers to how realistic it is that you will achieve this goal. Again, looking at our weight loss goal, I think this is a very realistic hope. Over 12 weeks, you want to lose 10 pounds. Research says that losing a pound a week is a healthy and attainable marker. A goal of 10 pounds in three months gives you a little bit of wiggle room, but it’s also not too easy. It’s an achievable goal.
When it comes to setting goals, you want them to be relevant to your current lifestyle or where you hope to be. Sometimes we get ideas in our heads of what we want to or should be doing. These are often influenced by specific people or by society at large. To ensure your goal is meaningful to you, take some time to soul search. Decide whether what you say you want will actually benefit you and if it feels genuine.
Finally, make sure any objective you set for yourself is time-bound. This means it should have a beginning and an end. Otherwise, it’s just too tempting to say you’ll get to it “someday.” Our weight loss goal ends in three months. After that, you can decide if you’ve met your intentions or if you need to adjust your initial goal. If you’ve achieved what you set out to do, you can then set a completely new goal. Otherwise, you can tweak things a little and shoot for your newly-adjusted target. Either way, you’re continuing to move, rather than remaining stuck.
Planning and writing things down have a real power to them. Doing this tends to set things in motion that would otherwise be out of reach. It also provides you a framework from which to act. This alone can provide a huge boost to your mental clarity and sense of calm. It’s often when we feel purposeless and out of control that stress takes over. Take back your power by simply setting smart goals.