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How to create SMART Goals

While ringing in the new year, we often think about what’s next, what’s ahead, and how to get there. The new year is a perfect time for setting both personal and professional goals. Sometimes, many of us are guilty of setting goals that are unattainable, unrealistic, or not in line with our life expectations. Instead of facing disappointment in 2018, follow these tips for goal-making that will help you feel successful when you’re looking back this time next year.

Have a vision. “Backwards planning” is a common and useful goal-setting strategy. When backward planning, you think about where you want to be at the end of the year. What milestones have you met? What position do you have? Once you identify what the end of the year looks like, you plan backward from there. What Milestones should you have achieved be September? By June? What do you think you need to get there? Asking yourself this line of questions helps you plan out milestones and what resources you need to be successful.

Be SMART when making goals. SMART goals are a staple in the planning world. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Reasonable, and Timely. Below are descriptions of each component.

  • Specific: Articulate the goal in a manner that makes it easy to understand. The goal should not be confusing and should articulate exactly what you want to accomplish.
  • Measurable: The goal should be easy to measure or assess for success. There should be easily identifiable milestones along the way so that you can continue to stay on track.
  • Attainable: If it the goal is a stretch, it should be something that is within reach. Making a goal that you can envision achieving; it will help you stay motivated.
  • Relevant: The goal should be something that is tied to your values, your career, or you longer-term life plan. It should advance you, not distract you from other expectations or responsibilities.
  • Timely: There should be a deadline or end date for the goal. Goals should be mapped out in a way that allows for enough time for completion and assumes that completion in achievable in a reasonable amount of time.

Make a plan. Achieving goals requires thought and planning. Find some quiet time to sit down, reflect, and commit a plan to pen and paper. Writing it down helps you reflect on your SMART goals, consider what resources you need and clarify a way to get started. Also, documenting our goals is the first action of commitment and makes us more likely to move forward.

Find small wins to celebrate along the way. Most goals take time, energy, and dedication. Sometimes it can feel like the time it takes to complete a goal is so far away. Having milestones to celebrate along the way helps keep the journey fun and interesting.There will also be times when you may move backward, not advancing toward your goals. Thinking about your goal in small, achievable steps will get you back on track even when you hit a challenge.