Make sure the goals you set are SMART

As another year winds down to a close, you might count yourself among millions of other people who are looking ahead to the future. You might also be considering changes you want to make in life, such as making healthier food choices or getting more physical exercise on a daily basis. Perhaps you also have some career goals in mind for 2023. Setting goals for a new year is a worthwhile endeavor as long as the goals you set are SMART.

SMART is an acronym that stands for these words: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound. If you are setting goals that do not align with these foundational principles, success isn't likely. Making sure that each of your goals for the New Year to come are SMART is the first step toward accomplishing them.

SMART goals are always specific

If you are not specific when setting a new goal, you are making it difficult to achieve. For example, if you set too broad or vague of a goal, such as ''improve my health,'' you would hardly even know where or how to begin to accomplish it. Instead, a SMART goal is always specific. In this case, you might narrow things down by listing your goal in a more specific way, such as ''Incorporate more probiotics into my diet'' or ''Lose 15 lbs. by March 31st.

Both of these goals will improve your health. Because they are more specific, it would be easier to create a plan of action.

The M is SMART stands for 'measurable'

Both of the fictitious goals stated in the previous section are measurable, which is a key component of a SMART goal. For instance, you can easily measure whether you are progressing in incorporating more probiotics into your diet. You could list the usual sources of probiotics you were consuming before setting a new goal. Then, at various intervals of time, you would re-list the probiotics you are using to see if there has been an increase.

Setting a specific weight loss goal is also easily measurable. If you cannot measure your progress, it is more difficult, if not impossible, to know if you are on your way to meeting your goal.

Why set goals that are unattainable?

Setting unattainable goals is merely a source of frustration, disappointment and failure. It's fine to dream big and work hard as long as the goals you are setting are attainable. Before setting off to achieve a new goal, determine whether you have the means and resources to achieve it, or, if you don't, whether or not you can acquire them.

Can you reasonably expect to accomplish what you are setting out to do? If so, then go for it. If not, then, perhaps, you can refine or adapt the goal so that it becomes attainable.

Make all of your goals relevant and time-bound

Another way of saying that a goal must be relevant is to say it must have a purpose. In the prior examples we offered in this post, both goals had a purpose of or were relevant to improving health. When you set a new goal, make sure it has relevance. Why are you setting it? What is ''the big picture'' you envision if you accomplish the goal?

Finally, every goal you set must be time-bound. Otherwise, you might linger on and on without ever achieving its completion. Right from the start, give yourself a deadline. If you don't make it, you can always re-set and start again. However, it's important to have time constraints when setting goals for school or business or your personal life, because it helps to make them SMART.

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