Making changes can feel overwhelming and not meeting our expectations for change can be discouraging. SMART goals can help us create a supportive and empowering path towards change.
Here is how it works:
Here is more detail:
S is for Specific: Narrow your goal to a specific task to make in more manageable. This helps us break down big transformations to small steps. For example instead of saying “I’m going to get healthy” state what you are going to do specifically: “I want to build my endurance by riding my bicycle.” But to empower us we need more details:
M is for Measurable: How will you know you’ve reached your goal? Give yourself evidence by identifying measurable change: “I want to ride my bicycle three days a week for one hour.” Awesome! Is this goal reasonable for you right now? To achieve goals we need to start where we are and manage our expectations:
A is for Attainable: Can you do it? Its important to feel successful and there is nothing better than achieving an important goal. However, even the best athlete needs to train for new goals. Make sure your goal is attainable in the time-frame you set yourself and it is realistic:
R is for Relevant: Will your goal get you to where you want to be? Riding your bike three days a week is a great goal, but does it match what you want for yourself or is it a random choice? It may or may not depending on the personal meaning and values behind your goal. Thinking about relevance is important for making sure its the right goal for you.
T is for Time-Based: “I’m going to get healthy” is a broad goal that doesn’t motivate you for change. Creating a time-based goal creates a time frame that can encourage and commit us to that change. “Whew, I only have to ride my bike three days a week for an hour! Even though I want to do it daily, but that would be too much right now.” “I am going to start this Saturday” is more motivating than “Someday.”
SMART goals help us with self-care by managing our expectations and giving us a frame-work to reevaluate our outcomes and prevent negative self-talk. With SMART goals we can change our discouraging thoughts “I planned to bike three days a week for an hour, but I only biked once this week. I am so lazy!” changes to “Nope, I didn’t do as much biking this week– what got in the way? I had unexpected activities this week and I was really tired after I biked, maybe I need to change the goal.” That feels so much better, doesn’t it?