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Personal Goal Setting – How To Set SMART Goals

smart-goalsSetting personal goals is an important step in developing personally and professionally.  What goals have you set for yourself? Have you set a goal to get a better job so that you can more easily provide for your family? How successful have you been with achieving your goals?

People set goals for all sorts of reasons, but some goals work and some do not. If you are like me, you want to set the kind of goals that work!  To get started, you need to realize that goals are not just daydreams or getting some things you might like to have someday; they require an examination of your values as well as a road-map.
Values are those principles or qualities that you consider important. In fact, your personal values guide your choices, and yes, your goals. Some examples of values might include close family relationships, a degree, or a good job. Your values are formed early in life and can change as you mature. When you are young, your parents or relatives influence your values; as you grow, friends and teachers become a greater influence. To make sure you set goals that reflect your own personal values, you need to first determine them. What do you value? What is important to you? Sometimes, it works well to answer these questions with a friend or family member or someone else who knows you well. However, make sure to follow what feels right to you.
Once you understand your values, set goals that put these values into practice. Goals will help you to gain what you value or what is important to you.
To be effective, goals must be SMART. SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-Bound. In the article, SMART Goals, How to Make Your Goals Achievable, Specific is described as making your goal “clear, and specific, otherwise you won’t be able to focus your efforts or feel truly motivated to achieve it.” For example, instead of having a general goal of “I want to lose weight,” you might change it to something more specific like “I want to lose 10 pounds by July 1st.”
Measurable is the next part of the SMART acronym. If you add numbers and dates to your goal, it will automatically become measurable. For example, using the previous goal of losing weight, the “10 pounds” will tell you whether or not you have reached your goal. If you lost only eight pounds, you have not reached your goal.
The article, SMART Goals, How to Make Your Goals Achievable, describes “Achievable” as “Your goal also needs to be realistic and attainable to be successful. In other words, it should stretch your abilities but still remain possible.” Ask yourself whether the goal of losing 10 pounds by July is achievable. It is possible, but what if the goal was to lose 100 pounds by July? Since it is not possible to lose 30 pounds per month, this new goal would not be achievable.
“Relevant” is the next part of the acronym. In this step, make sure that the goal is worthwhile. Although someone else might want you to reach a certain goal, if the goal does not matter to you, you will not end up putting the energy into achieving it.
The final step of the SMART acronym is to ensure your goal is “time-bound.” All goals need a deadline. When you set a due date for a goal, you need to make sure that the date is possible to achieve. Using the losing weight goal, “I want to lose 10 pounds by July 1st,” you can make sure the July 1st date is a reasonable deadline by adding the following details to the goal: I will walk three miles per day, five days per week, and eat fast food only one day per week.
Now, what if your goal was to get a higher paying job that you enjoy by the time you are 35 years old? This goal requires more education and skills to achieve, so your goals might look something like this:

  1. I will graduate from Fremont University with a Business Leadership Degree by June of 2019 by completing all assignments on time and by maintaining a GPA of 3.8%.
  2. Once I receive my diploma, I will get help from Fremont’s Career Planning Department to create a resume that showcases my skills in order to get a higher paying position by August of 2019.

How can you stay on track when you are working toward the Business Leadership Degree? First, break the goal down into small steps.  For instance, passing each course could be your short-term goal. Second, reward yourself for achieving each short-term goal. Your reward could be something like taking the family out to a nice dinner. (In the case of achieving your degree, the reward could be something large like going on a dream vacation.) Third, set up reminders for assignment due dates or any other relevant task.  Fourth, make sure you write your goals down and post them somewhere that you will see them every day.
“You cannot change your destination overnight, but you can change your direction overnight.” ~ Jim Rohn


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