Has anyone ever asked you what your goals in life are? To some, this question comes easy and they have a clear vision of what they wish to achieve as well as how they plan to achieve it. Others find the task of setting a goal daunting. They may have a vague idea of what they would like to achieve but putting it on paper seems overwhelming and leads to burying their goals and dreams rather than going after them. If you find it difficult to set goals, you’re not alone.

If you regularly find yourself setting goals yet never achieving them or not knowing how to set goals in the first place, you’re in the right place. We are here to help you learn how to set better, SMART goals, that will help you to make progress and gain momentum towards achieving your dreams. With a little guidance, you are sure to be able to set goals that you can actually achieve and start taking control of your success.

If you’re feeling stuck or in a cycle of not being able to move past your excuses, it may be a good idea to reach out to a life coach. As a certified life coach, Lisa Jeffs can help you find clarity and confidence to make the changes you desire in your life and career. See our previous article “How to Overcome Your Overwhelm” for more tips on moving past your feelings of overwhelm to make goal setting easier.

What are SMART Goals?

If you find goal setting difficult, it might simply be because you are setting goals that are either too vague, too grandiose, or take too long to achieve. It’s easy to fall into a trap of setting a big, scary goal without having a plan to achieve it. But without a plan, you are much less likely to have success with achieving your goals, thus starting a cycle of self-doubt and a belief that you can’t achieve your dreams.

SMART goals are the answer to your goal setting problems. But what is a SMART goal? It’s not a goal that is better than others, it’s simply a goal that follows a guide that leads you to success from the start of the goal-setting process. The acronym SMART represents the following components of goal setting that you can achieve.

Specific – being specific with your goals is your first step in setting a goal you will actually achieve. Consider making a list of all the aspects of your goals. Who will be involved, what you want to do, where you will achieve it, when you plan to achieve it, and most importantly why you wish to achieve this goal. When you are able to answer these questions you should have a clear understanding of what it is you are actually looking to achieve. Try not to make vague goals such as “I want to make more money.” Instead, apply these questions to your goals and make it as specific as possible.

Measurable – if you can’t measure your goal how will you ever know if you’ve made progress? It is important to keep track of your goals in order to make adjustments as needed or celebrate your success. Have a plan for measuring your goals and consider setting checkpoints along the way. If your goal is financial, set specific revenue checkpoints to track your progress along the way.

Achievable – setting achievable goals is one of the most important aspects of your goal-setting process. You might have a goal of earning a million dollars, but you need to be realistic about your current situation. It may be a realistic long-term goal, but it might not be a realistic one-year goal. Set goals that challenge you but are achievable. Set yourself up for success and consider setting many smaller achievable goals over time rather than one very difficult to achieve goal.

Realistic – just like setting achievable goals, be realistic in what you can and cannot do at any given time. If your goals are currently grander than your capabilities of achieving them, then it may be time to re-evaluate this goal. This never means that you must put your dreams on the backburner, simply scale it to a level that is achievable and realistic in your present situation. Your goal should be realistic in that it can be achieved within the timeline and within the resources you have available. Consider a weight loss goal as an example, it is not realistic to lose 100lbs in two months, but it could be realistic in a longer period. Always set yourself up for success.

Timely – your goal should have a due date to keep you on track and accountable. When you make your goal, consider when you want to achieve it by and set a timeline. If at any point in time you need to adjust, you can. But to build momentum and take action, you should consider putting a deadline on your goals.

Do I Need to Write Down My Goals?

Writing your goals down can be a powerful tool in turning your goals and dreams into reality. Consider taking your SMART goal template and applying it to your goal. By writing it down you make the goal real, and by using the SMART goals system, you increase the likelihood of achieving your goals. You may even find that it is easier to visualize a goal when you take the time to write it down and make your plan.

If you feel that you need more guidance in learning how to write a smart goal, or feel as if you could use support in finding clarity in goal setting, it may be a good idea to reach out to a life coach. Having a life coach like Lisa Jeffs is a great way to push past your excuses and start taking action towards making your dreams. For more tips on taking charge of your dreams see our previous article “How to Find Your Passion.”