We’ve all done it. We’ve set New Year’s resolutions that are ambitious that we think will make us look good only to give up on them days, weeks, or a month later. Let’s discuss some ways that will help us over come these obstacles.
Choose Goals You LOVE!
Just yesterday, I heard a radio personality sharing his story from years ago when he was setting a fitness goal. He hates exercising and working out, but his goal was to hire a personal trainer at a nearby club and work out daily. The trainer wanted to see what his fitness level was, so he asked the radio personality to try a series of exercises. When it came time to see what speed he could run, the trainer asked him about how fast he could run. The guy on the radio had no clue, he hadn’t exercised, let alone run, in years. So he said 10 minutes. The trainer made some adjustments on a treadmill and turned it on. Within a minute, the radio personality thought he was going to die. The trainer asked him a few minutes in if he was ok. The radio personality was on a machine next to women who were going to town on their machines. He didn’t want to appear weak, so he said he was fine even though he thought he was going to throw up or pass out. Before long, he fell. Humiliated, he never went back to the club. He was through exercising. His goal lasted one day.
What happened? What went wrong? First of all, was this goal relevant and achievable for him? He doesn’t like exercising. Even if he wasn’t humiliated, he may not have completed his goal simply because he wasn’t inspired. Second, he set the bar too high.
After you have found what inspires you, but before you write down your goals, take a look at the graphic below.
So, let’s say that you want this year to be the year that you feel healthy or you want to read more than you did last year. These two are great places to start, but they are not specific. How will you measure feeling healthy so that you know if you achieved that goal or not? Is it achievable? Is it relevant to you and is it possible to set a deadline?
SPECIFIC: Let’s take a look at wanting to read more. Last year, I read a few books, but I don’t really recall how many I read. Some questions I might ask myself: Are they going to be books I read to myself or my family? Are there certain books I want to read? Setting a specific goal is easier when I know what books I want to read. Some books are easy reads and take very little time while others are more difficult.
I have decided I want to read some books that are fun and some books that are for personal development.
MEASURABLE: It’s easy to know when I’ve read a book because I’ll be at the end. So, I could make it a measurable goal by saying I’ll read an average of “x” pages per day and/or “x” books per month. It may also be easy to say that I’ll read one novel one month and a personal development book the next month. Then, each month, I could look at the number of pages each book has and divide them by the number of days per month I plan to read. For instance, I may choose to read 3 days per week/12 days per month because that’s what I believe will fit into my schedule. I could put a simple check mark on my calendar or a spreadsheet to mark that I read.
ACHIEVABLE: As I mentioned up above, it’s important to look at your schedule if your goal takes time to make sure the goal doesn’t demand too much of your time. If it does, then it will become a burden and no longer enjoyable. I believe that goals can be changed, so if I decide in February that the book I’m reading doesn’t inspire me, I can switch to another book. Same thing with exercising, if I chose to run and I discover I hate running or get injured, I could replace that exercise with something that is safe and enjoyable because I’ll still be working toward my original idea of exercising or reading more this year.
RELEVANT: As I mentioned in above, it’s important to choose goals that inspire you because that makes them relevant to you. As the year progresses, it’s a good idea to reevaluate to be sure that your goal is still relevant. If you happen to achieve your goal mid-year, it’s ok to change your goal to a new one or set it higher. If my goal is to read one book per month and I finish mid-month, I could start the next book early. If, by October, I’ve read 12 books already, I could change my goal to 14 or 15. If my goal was to run 30 miles per week, but realize I’m struggling for one reason or another, change it.
TIME BOUND: Set a deadline. The competitive side of me likes to push to reach the goal, but the logical side of me know that there are times when reaching the goal to quickly can set me back. In the case of reading books, I recently hours away from the deadline to finish the Old Testament by the end of 2015 in order to reach a goal I set in September. I started reading very quickly. I had 5 chapters left to read on December 31st at 10 PM. At the end of 2 chapters, I realized I didn’t get much out of them. I chose to stop and give myself a few more days. After all, what’s the point of reading if you just look at the words. Nothing is gained.
When your goal takes a little longer, extend it. I’ve extended goals in the past and will in the future. I focus on what I’ve accomplished and recognize that I am better for getting as far as I did even though I didn’t reach the goal yet.
Before we get too carried away writing a LONG list of goals, let’s talk about vision boards. It’s a visual reminder of the goals that I have set. I like to put no more than 6 on at a time because it looks cluttered. Our minds, like our vision boards, can get cluttered and disorganized. In this state of mind, it’s hard to focus on any of our goals. So, if you have a long list of goals, choose a few to focus on. I like to break my goals down into categories so that I’m working on my whole self.
Here are the categories:
I like to place it in my room in a place I notice as I go about my daily activities. I also put it on my desktop on my computer so that every time I turn it on, I see it. Here is a graphic that represents the goals I set back in September. I regularly post my progress on toward my weight goals.
When I achieve a goal, I take it off my vision board and put it in a success binder. There are times when we get discouraged about our ability to achieve some of the goals we perceive to be harder. When we see the goals that we have achieved, it can renew our faith in the possibility that our goals are achievable.
The daily reminders I get from seeing my vision board helps keep me on track of the SMART goals I am working toward. Ultimately, I have achieved more and feel an increased sense of self-worth.
What are your experiences with setting SMART goals? Have you used a vision board? We’d love to hear your experiences and tips!