Goal Setting in Six SMART Steps

The new year is coming… Whether you create resolutions or not, the turning of the year is a natural time to reflect on the big picture and reassess goals and the plan ahead. However many people do not have a plan in place to achieve these goals.

I heard somewhere recently that people who write down their goals are almost 50% more likely to achieve them than those that do not? Most of us are just thinking about the next meal to feed our kids, let alone where we would like to see ourselves in five years. 

But.. What if we broke down our big, seemingly intangible goals into smaller bite size mini-goals? 

Here are some tips to make goal setting and reaching more manageable.   

1. Do a Brain Dump.

Put your phone away, take a blank sheet of paper, and start large. What are your big goals, smaller goals, travel and life goals, projects for self-improvement. Nothing is off the table. If this feels difficult or overwhelming in itself, think about your “WHY” and work backwards. Do you want to be active into your old age, maybe it means cleaning up the diet and keeping an exercise routine that mixes up resistance, balance and cardiovascular training. If you want to travel the world with your family, maybe that means figuring out how to create flexible income so that you can still have funds coming in when you are not available.

2. Make A Plan

Step back from your initial brain dump and think about what is standing in your way on these. Maybe you spend a few minutes and divide your goals into categories (travel, self-care, relationships) to help visualize each. Also, backtrack from some of the larger goals to see if you can chunk it down into more bite size mini goals. For instance, if you want to run your first marathon, maybe a one mile a day challenge is somewhere to start, or a local 5k.  

3. Create SMART goals

What are your halfway points or major milestones to reach your goals? Think about a realistic timeframe given your individual circumstances. Tackling a big adult project over winter break when your kids are home might not be the best strategy. Better might be to delegate activities and responsibilities for the kids over break so you can tackle just a couple of hours a day toward your goals and go into January strong. Maybe pick a couple of your goals from your brain dump and create smaller SMART goals – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time Bound. 


4. Hold yourself Accountable

Share your goals with a couple of people close to you. Maybe its your spouse or your best friend. It could be a co-worker or a workout buddy. Maybe its someone who shares the same goal. This accountability will make you much more likely to stick to your goal and not let it slip by, but also maybe have a partner to work on it with.

5. Make Daily and Weekly goals 

Chunking big goals down into mini-goals requires some time spent making daily and weekly goals. What small step can you make to get closer to your goals. Half hour time block sheets are also helpful to assess where you are spending your time. If you are spending lots of time on things that are not helping you meet your goal, maybe it needs to be dropped off your schedule. When we look at it all written out, we realize sometimes how we could use our time more productively. 

6. Make a Plan to Reassess and repeat goal setting. 

Remember, progress not perfection! I have had patients trying to lose weight forever trying every diet out there, but until we laid out a more attainable plan and realized the contributing factors it seemed like an overwhelming task. A few pounds a month worked much better than the initial and daunting goal of 30 pounds. 

Hope this helps as we enter the new year with reflection, goal setting and preparation!  

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veena somani md

integrative  lifestyle  coach