Sunday, 26 August 2018

Goal


G is for Goal

Do you believe in making New Year’s resolutions and if you do, how do you go? Do you start something like a diet with high expectations and then after a little while later it becomes too hard and you give up? One way to help yourself stay on track is to write a goal. 

So, what is a goal? 

A goal is a statement stating what you want to achieve when you want to achieve it and why you wish to achieve it. 

When I write goals, I use the SMART approach. 

Let me give you an example, then I will explain the process. 

I will walk for 30 minutes every day after I drop the children at school. I will do this because it will improve my fitness and mental health. I will begin tomorrow and I will assess how I have gone in a month.


So, SMART is an acronym that represents a framework for creating effective goals. It stands for five qualities your goals should have. They should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and realistic, and Time-bound. The SMART method has been proven to be one of the most popular and effective tools for creating realistic and achievable goals. And the more realistic and achievable they are, the more likely you are to be successful. 


Step One: Make your goal specific (S) 

Your first step is to decide what you want to achieve, then think about it in specific terms.

For example, a general goal could be, ‘I want to eat healthier. 

But what does the word healthier mean? Break the general term healthier down further. Does it mean one take-away meal per week; taking salads to work for lunch; two glasses of wine a week etc?

For this example, a more specific goal could be, ‘I will drink 8 glasses of water a day.’

You will notice that in this example I have included the number 8. This is something we can measure. Other examples could be: Go to the gym two nights a week. Lose 5kg of weight. Cut out all sugar from my coffee.

Next, answer the 5 "W" questions about your goal: Who, What, When, Where, and Why. 

After deciding what you want to happen, go to the who. Who do you need the help of? Could it be a personal trainer? A dietitian? A buddy? Support from your spouse or family?
Then decide where and when this will happen. Think about the location in which you will do the striving, and when you will fit it into your week. If it is to exercise more, where will you be – at home, the gym, the park, the local neighbourhood? When are you going to exercise? Are you going to get up earlier, or walk in your lunch hour? Also, think about how often. You may wish to exercise three times a week as you feel that is achievable. 
Work out why you are setting the goal. If you don't have a pretty good reason it is unlikely you will achieve it. Write down the reasons for and benefits of achieving your goal. Post them on your fridge or mirror, so when you really don’t want to keep going with your goal, they are there for you to see. 

Also it is important that you work out the obstacles or requirements for achieving the goal. Obstacles may be time-related, your health, family constraints, financial, personal safety. It could even be a psychological obstacle – maybe you hate eating, or you don’t like the way you look in gym gear. A requirement may be that you need a doctor’s clearance or you may need special equipment. If you want to achieve the goal you need to consider how these can be worked around or accommodated? 

Step Two: Make Your Goal Measurable (M)

I talked about this briefly above, when I said to use numbers in your goal. A description of the desired outcome can also be used. These will make it easy to track your progress and know when you have achieved your goal. For example you wish to lose 10 kilograms. So you will need to know your existing weight, so you can measure your progress and know when you have achieved it. Or, you could say as a description, ‘Fit back into my wedding dress.’ Both are able to be measured.
There are some questions that can help you with making your goal measurable:
  • How much? For example, "How much weight do I hope to lose?"
  • How many? For example, "How many times a week do I want to go to the gym?"
  • How will I know when I've accomplished the goal?
Devise a plan to track and measure your progress. Having measurable goals makes it easy to track your progress. If you wish to lose 10 kg, and you’ve lost 3, then you know you have 7 kgs to go. In this planning, decide how often you are going to measure your progress. Will it be in time e.g. once a week or fortnight, or the distance run, weights lifted, number of spoons of sugar, number of drinks of water, number of hours spent writing etc. Some people like to keep a journal. In this journal you can write the results you’ve seen, have motivational quotes, diary your feelings.

Step Three: Make Your Goal Attainable (A)

Think about your limitations and how committed you are to achieving the goal. You need to make sure that the goal you have set can actually be achieved, otherwise you may become discouraged. So think about the obstacles you’ve already identified. Then consider if you’ll be able to achieve your goal with them. If not, it would be best to choose a different goal. For example, if you want to go to the gym three times a week, but you can't realistically fit it into your schedule, then don't make that your goal.  

Step Four: Make Your Goal Relevant and Realistic (R)

Think about if your goal is relevant to your life. Will the goal will fulfil your desires or needs or if there’s a different goal that’s more important to you? For example, maybe you are tossing up between studying a course that will further your career and a course that is for enjoyment,  which would you choose?

Step Five: Make Your Goal Time-Bound (T)

This means your goal should have a deadline or there should be a date set for completion. It can be a long-term goal or a short-term goal, and you may have a long-term goal which is broken up into shorter goals. For example, if my long-term goal is to lose 50 kilograms, then my short-term goal could be to lose 10 kg in 6 months. Setting a deadline or finishing time helps you to stay on track. It takes away, ‘I’ll do it sometime.’

***

After you have written you SMART goal and implemented it, there will be a time you will need to assess how you went. If you achieved your goal, great! But if not, then take the time to reflect on why not. Were there obstacles preventing you? Was it too unreasonable? Did you lose motivation?

When thinking generally about the parts of the goal, ask yourself: What worked well? What didn’t? What was easy about the goal? What was hard about the goal? What would you change? What would you take into your next goal? Consider the time frame, the financial cost, the obstacles you had to overcome, any impact on your family, and anything else that you feel is worth considering.

Then once you have achieved your goal, celebrate, then set another one!



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