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Goal Setting: Measurement, Motivation and Planning

A SMARTer Way to Reach Your Goals

If you've struggled to achieve certain goals, you're not alone. A vast majority of people have difficulty fulfilling their ambitions, because they either set themselves up for failure or simply don't know where to start. Whether you're looking to lose weight, get a degree, run a marathon or write a novel, there are some smart ways you can improve your chances of success. Here's how you can build an intelligent strategy that will help you reach your highest goals.

Why We Struggle with Goals

According to a study out of the University of Scranton, an astounding 92 percent of people who set New Year's goals never go on to achieve them. Most people fail because they set goals that are either vague, unrealistic, difficult to track or relatively insignificant or irrelevant to their individual lives. Through SMART goal setting , however, people are able to identify realistic, meaningful goals and create actionable plans that help them reach their objectives.

A Better Way to Reach Your Goals

SMART goal setting is a method of adding structure and trackability into your objectives. Rather than setting vague resolutions, SMART goal setters craft verifiable trajectories toward a specific objective, adding clear milestones, while honestly assessing the attainability of the goal. The SMART method can be used to make virtually any goal more attainable. But, how does it work?

To ensure that your objective is clear and achievable, it needs to be:

S pecific (simple, significant, sensible).

M easurable (motivating, meaningful).

A chievable (attainable, action-oriented).

R elevant (resourced and realistic, reasonable, results-based).

T ime bound (timely, time-sensitive, time-based, time limited, time/cost limited).

Specific: Start by asking yourself what exactly you hope to achieve. Then figure out all the details by asking Where? How? When? With Whom? Consider any limitations or conditions, and ask yourself why you really want to reach this goal. Finally, consider if there are any potential alternative ways of achieving what you really want.

Measurable: Identify exactly what you will hear, see and feel when you reach your goal. Break the goal down into measurable elements. Instead of saying something vague such as, "I'll be happier" - nail down the specifics; for instance, "I will no longer smoke; I will be 15 pounds lighter; I will eat vegetables twice a day, etc."

Attainable: There's nothing wrong with shooting for the stars; however, if you don't have the money, time or talent to achieve a certain goal, you are all but certain to fail. Choose an achievable goal or refine the goal, so it will be within your grasp if you put in the required effort.

Relevant: Is your goal really relevant to your life or interests? Do you really want to run a marathon or get a high-paying job that takes time away from your family life? Do you have the personality, bandwidth, training or patience? Make sure you will still want to achieve your goal months after you begin the hard work and your initial excitement has worn off.

Timely: Everyone knows that deadlines are powerful catalysts that force people into action. Add a deadline to your goal to get you moving. Keep the timeline flexible and realistic, so you can keep your morale high. If you get too stringent with your deadline, you may feel overwhelmed and defeated.

SMART is an effective strategy that provides focus, clarity and motivation to goal setting. It also encourages you to clearly define your objectives and create a completion date that promotes action. Before you set out to achieve something special, see if you can use the SMART strategy to give yourself the best possible chance of success.

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