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How to set goals you will actually achieve

Posted on 11/01/22
Smart Goals

As part of our 2022: The Year of You campaign, we’re focusing on a different aspect of personal and professional development each month this year, to help you make 2022 your best year ever.

As the month of fresh starts, this January we’re focusing on goal setting.

Most people will be no strangers to setting new goals at the start of the year, but did you know that most people have given up on their New Year’s Resolutions as early as January 19th?

So we’re sharing how you can set goals you actually stick to and achieve.

Setting goals can be a helpful way to achieve the career (and the life) that you want, but without a proper plan in place as to how you’ll achieve them, they can often fall to the wayside.

A great way to make sure you see your goals through is to follow the SMART framework. A SMART goal is: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-Bound.

Each aspect of the SMART framework ties together to create a goal that is well-planned, clear and trackable - and ultimately easier to achieve.

Goals that are too vague, aggressive or badly framed are often difficult to see through. Working toward a poorly-crafted goal can feel daunting and unachievable. Whether you’re setting personal or professional goals, using the SMART goal framework can establish a strong foundation for achieving success.

  1. Specific

Clear, specific goals help you to focus your efforts and feel truly motivated to achieve it. The more specific a goal is, the easier it is to define the clear steps you need to take to achieve it.

Consider these questions:

  • What do I want to accomplish?
  • Why is this goal important?
  • Who is involved?
  • Where is it located?
  • Which resources or limits are involved?
  1. Measurable

It's important to have measurable goals, so that you can track your progress and stay motivated. Assessing progress helps you to stay focused, meet your deadlines, and feel the excitement of getting closer to achieving your goal. Being able to track your progress also means you’ll be able to see if you are falling short and whether you need to either adjust your predicted timescale or take extra steps to get there.

Consider these questions:

  • How much/many?
  • How will I know when it is accomplished?
  • What are the key milestones I will pass?
  1. Achievable

While it’s good to have goals that stretch you, they still need to be realistic enough to ensure they’re actually possible. Setting a goal that is too unrealistic makes you far more likely to give up on it sooner.

Consider these questions:

  • How can I accomplish this goal?
  • Do I have or can I acquire the required skill set to achieve this?
  • How realistic is the goal, based on other constraints, such as financial factors?
  • Is this goal actually within your power, or does it ultimately rely on other people?
  1. Relevant

This step is about ensuring that your goal aligns to both your values and your other relevant goals. We all need support and assistance in achieving our goals, but it's important to retain control over them. So, make sure that your plans drive everyone forward, but that you're still responsible for achieving your own goal.

Consider these questions:

  • Does this seem worthwhile?
  • Does it align with your values?
  • Is this the right time?
  • Does this match your other long-term goals?
  1. Time-bound

Setting a deadline for your goal helps ensure you don’t keep putting it off for another day. The key to this aspect is to pick a short enough time frame that you’re motivated to keep it a priority and can keep your momentum going, but long enough to ensure the goal is realistic and not overwhelming. Breaking your goal down into smaller steps can help you assess the time frame required.

Consider these questions:

  • How long is each step likely to take?
  • What can I do six months from now?
  • What can I do six weeks from now?
  • What can I do today?

In summary, SMART is an effective tool to provide the clarity, focus and motivation you need to achieve your goals. By encouraging you to define your objectives and set a completion date, it makes it more likely you will actually see your goals through.

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