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
- Identify the outcome you are seeking. Is your goal broad? Can your goal be clearly defined? Who or what is involved in this goal?
M - Measurable
- Assess your progress. How many? How much? How will you know that you have accomplished this goal?
A - Achievable
- Determine what modes of preparation, support, and abilities are needed. Are there constraints? Is it possible? Does someone else have power over this goal?
R - Relevant
- Reflect upon your reasons. Is this what you want? What will you gain? How will this help you? Does this goal reflect your values?
T - Time Bound
- Create a target deadline. When? How often? How long?
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.