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Setting SMART Goals: Easing the Pressure of Expectations

Entering a new year can give us all a much needed opportunity to reflect on our wants and needs, in order to set health, professional or interpersonal goals. This is because the sense of renewal that accompanies the idea of time restarting, can encourage a desire to evaluate our feelings of accomplishment. 

Although setting goals is a necessary part of growth, pressure to meet unrealistic expectations can sometimes overpower initial feelings of hope & inspiration. When this happens, we can become stuck in an unwanted cycle of disappointment. 

The SMART Goals acronym is a mental tool for evaluating our expectations, to prevent feelings of disappointment and to maintain motivation. The acronym stands for five qualities our goals should have, that increase the likelihood for future success: 

S - Specific 

M - Measurable 

A - Achievable

R - Relevant

T - Time Bound

SMART Goals can help you become closer to realizing your capabilities but at the end of the day it is important to approach goal setting with self-compassion, kindness, and flexibility. Every person has a different timeline that works well for them - and that’s okay. Regardless of whether or not you accomplish all of your goals, you should feel proud of yourself for everything you have already done to take care of yourself & your well-being.

Siena Vaccara, LMHC Siena Vaccara received her master’s in Mental Health & Psychological Counseling from Columbia University. Siena believes in encouraging personal growth through education, cultural awareness, and building trusting relationships. She utilizes Feminist and Narrative treatment plans, as well as Cognitive Behavioral and Person-Centered techniques in session to incorporate an integrative psychotherapy approach that honors the unique needs of individuals. She understands the importance of the collaborative therapeutic space being non-judgemental, unbiased, open-minded, and strength-driven. Siena treats individuals with concerns ranging from personal transitions to family planning, identity, mood fluctuations, and stressful life events.

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