Goals can be daunting. Some goals are so big and so seemingly insurmountable that it can be hard to get started working on them. When faced with such a difficult task, it is hard to conjure up and maintain the motivation to pursue goals. Luckily, there is a handy goal-setting tool that can make any task more manageable. This tool is called SMART goal setting, and it helps break down big gargantuan goals into smaller, more attainable goals. For example, if you have a goal of being more social, SMART goal setting helps you break down this big scary goal into more manageable goals that will help you get to the end goal of being more social. Here’s the breakdown:
Specific: Goals should be specific. “Being more social” is rather vague. In which ways do you want to be social? Ask yourself the Why, What, Where, When, Who, and How of the goal. For example, you can make a goal to call your cousin Alex Tuesday at 8pm for a catch-up phone call.
Measurable: You should be able to tell when your goal has been met, or if it hasn’t. With a goal like “Be more social,” it’s hard to tell if the goal has been achieved or not. Does a text message count, or do you need to actually see someone in person? With setting a goal like call Alex at 8pm Tuesday, it is easy to tell if the goal has been met or not.
Action-Oriented: It’s great to talk about goals and write them down but the end result should always be action-oriented. State specifically what it is you want to do, so that there’s no confusion or muddling around when the time comes.
Realistic: While goals are meant to be challenging, they should also be realistic. If you have social anxiety and have a goal of being more social, perhaps setting a goal to go to a massive party right off the bat isn’t very realistic. Set manageable, realistic goals.
Time-Oriented: Provide yourself with a timeframe to complete your goal. This prevents the cycle of “Oh I’ll do it later.” When 8pm on Tuesday rolls around, you’ll know it’s the time to take action.
Breaking goals down into SMART steps helps us achieve greater success. It also helps us gauge our level of readiness to take on challenges. Is calling Alex too much of a challenge? Think about what was challenging about it. Can you set a new SMART goal to deal with one of these challenges? Perhaps scale it back and start with reaching out via social media or sending a text, then move on to the phone call when you’re ready. Were you able to complete the goal of calling Alex? Great! Celebrate your accomplishment, and then think of another SMART goal that will challenge you further. SMART goal setting can help you get over inertia and feel more capable about making positive changes in your life.
Arts Program Co-ordinator
Riverwalk Wellness Centres