What is it about goals that can set our hair on end?
While we have mastered the art of laughing off the need to set New Year’s resolutions (yes, we learnt to dropped those in our 20s, thank heavens) when someone dares to drop the G word, many of us are guilty of rolling our eyes on the outside but feeling short of breath on the inside.
A sense of dread, panic and overwhelm can strike our core.
I believe the key point of difference between a NY resolution and a genuine goal that can cultivate real change, is a resolution is not SMART.
Specific. Measurable. Attainable. Realistic. Timely.
Resolutions are generally laced with negativity. For example, “This year I really should stop drinking so much coffee.”
On the other hand, a SMART goal sets a solid frame work for what you want, how you’ll achieve it and by when.
Let’s break it down further:
If you’re goal isn’t specific you won’t remember it, it won’t mean anything to you and you simply won’t do it.
Therefore if you’re real about achieving something you genuinely desire, make sure it’s specific, clear and concise so there’s no confusion or room to quit because you weren’t sure what you wanted.
A specific goal could be: Walk three times per week.
As opposed to: Exercise more.
Once you’ve clarified your goal, dive deeper and figure out:
1. Why it’s important to you (e.g. to cultivate my best life as a healthy and happy Mum and give myself time to nourish my mind, body and soul)
2. Where you can do it (e.g. local park, walking club, on the treadmill, with my friend along the river)
3. What you need (e.g. new walking shoes)
4. When it will occur (e.g. Monday, Thursday and Saturday mornings)
Create a time line to measure your goals and track when you take steps towards achieving it, what you felt and the progress you’ve made. Keeping track of your goal in a tangible form will also help you remember when and where you took action previously, because life will get messy, you’ll forget and then you’ll stop.
Your goal needs to be realistic otherwise you’ll never get started or maintain the motivation to keep going. My goal of becoming Kylie Minogue’s back up singer/dancer/entourage is not realistic (though how cool would that be!!).
Your goals don’t make them selves happen, you have to believe they are attainable in order to put in the effort and take small steps each day towards achieving it. Suddenly they appear less intimidating and very, very real! If you don’t think something is attainable, it will never happen.
Consider what you may have achieved in the past that could compare to this goal. When you know you’re capable of doing what you put your mind too, the goal is more than realistic.
As a busy working Mum it’s also important to understand what’s currently going on in your life to help make that goal achievable. If you know you have to work every second Saturday, then setting the goal to walk on Saturdays isn’t realistic. Don’t set yourself up for failure, before you’ve started.
Schedule it! Set the deadline, then work backwards so you know what needs to happen each month and week (days too if necessary) to help you to achieve it.
If you want to cultivate a healthy life and walking is how you’ll do it, you could set a time frame of 12 weeks, keep track of how you’re feeling each week, what action you take and how far you walk. Then at the end of 12 weeks, you can look back at see how far you’ve come (hello, measurable outcome!) and what you’ve achieved. 3 months (or 4 or 6 months) is realistic considering everything on your plate.
Now, it’s time to get started. Tell me in the comments below what your SMART goal is and the first step you’ll take towards achieving it.
If you want to dive deeper, download our new Project Me Playbook, a free comprehensive 31 page workbook guiding you step by step towards creating and achieving meaningful goals.