Setting goals is important, right? Why? The reasoning is that setting goals helps us to focus our minds on tasks by limiting distractions. There is little doubt this is true. When creating goals it is helpful to follow a few simple guidelines. To help remember these guidelines, here is a helpful phrase: WHY SMART. SMART goals aren’t new, but they nonetheless provide a path to achievement and a road map to success.

W – Written – A written goal provides a concrete reminder of the task you intend to accomplish. The writing of the goal can help to solidify it in your mind as well.

H- Harmonious – The goal should be in harmony with who you are as a person. For example, if you are a parent, your goal may reflect this by containing details related to building an open channel of communication with your children.

Y – You – In conjunction with the harmonious nature of the goal, the You part indicates that the goal is for you and not for someone else. This may seem obvious, but it is important to remember that you are much more likely to achieve goals that you set for yourself rather than those that others (like a manager, teacher, or department head) sets for you.

S – Specific– The more specific, the greater the impact. If you set a goal to “get in shape”, that’s commendable. But if the goal is to lose 15 pounds and lower your total body fat by 3% in 3 months by eating 2500 calories daily and exercising for at least 45 minutes a day, 4 days a week, that has more of an impact , doesn’t it?

M – Measurable – This is important for a few reasons. First, it helps you to know whether you have achieved your goal, or to keep you on the right track. It also helps to reinforce the specificity of the goal. As in our previous example, if the goal is to lose 15 pounds, that’s obviously a measurable objective.

A – Attainable – It is advisable to challenge yourself enough to make the goal worth the effort, yet you should exercise caution to ensure that you don’t set a goal that is unreachable. If you are at 25% body fat, you may not want to set a goal of losing 15% body fat in one month. That would not be safe or realistically attainable.

R – Realistic – Again, playing off of the previous example, the realistic nature of a goal has a lot to do with its attainability. Using the example of losing the weight and trimming the body fat, is it not realistic to believe that we can do this without exercise and a proper diet.

T – Timely– The time element is probably the feaure that will help the most in keeping you accountable for the completion of the goal, since it sets a clear deadline. It will keep you from dragging your feet.

By using this simple mnemonic, you can begin creating powerful goals for yourself. It’s free to anyone who chooses to use it, and the more you practice this technique, the better you will be able to create your goals, and the easier it will become.

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