How to set rock solid goals you can stick to.
Updated: Apr 21
Goal setting. Liberating or intimidating? Some see this as an opportunity to create something new and exciting, whilst others feel dread or struggle with where to start.
Maybe it's appraisal season at work, you're starting a new project or perhaps it's something more personal, like setting a commitment to be more active? Today, I'm thinking about what goals I want to achieve as we move into autumn. Despite being excited about the year ahead, I can still find myself staring at that blank page! Sound familiar?
For me, I know that creating space to think about what I truly want and why I want to achieve it really helps me to start the process. So what do I mean by creating space? This could be as simple has taking a notepad & pen to a quiet part of the house, a cosy corner of your favourite coffee shop or even getting outside somewhere in nature. The key thing is to find somewhere away from distractions to ground & connect with yourself.
It's easier to stick to a plan if you know why you're doing it!
Great, you now have a goal. So what's your purpose? Let's start by thinking how this goal is important to you. Consider questions like; why do I want this, how will I feel when I reach this or what difference will it make to my life, my job or my health? Defining our motivation or our 'why' for achieving a goal is key. This sets our intention to achieve it and is what will keep you accountable (or what I like to call 'keep you honest') when the going gets tough. It's easier to stick to a plan if you know why you're doing it! You're invested!
So often we avoid this part or pay lip-service to the process, especially if we believe that we have no influence over achieving the goal... we've all had that one performance review! But if you don't define why it's important (your reason or purpose), then how will you define what you need to do to get there... or even commit to when you will get there? Conversely, allowing yourself time to explore this can challenge you to decide if a goal is really something you want. How many times do we end up setting other people's goals for ourselves? Do we really commit to them and follow through? No, as we're not invested.
You have a purpose. Check. Now it's time to get SMART! There's a few different techniques for goal setting, but the most common are SMART goals. SMART Goals aren't just for the workplace, they are a really effective tool for your life and wellbeing goals too.
SMART is an acronym for; specific, measurable, attainable or achievable, relevant and time bound. To work well, you'll will need to ask yourself questions that align to each element. This will help you to craft them into a solid plan that will keep you on track and stay accountable (trust me, it's worth effort). Some things to consider could be:
SPECIFIC: Define your 'why'. This is about expanding you goal to something specific. For example, rather than saying "I want to go running", say "I want to run 5km without stopping". Be intentional!
MEASURABLE: How will you check if you are making progress towards your goal? How will you know when you get there?
ATTAINABLE / ACHIEVABLE: How will you get there? What help or skills do you need along the way? What will stop you being successful?
RELEVANT: How do your actions support your goal? How will it make you feel like when you achieve it?
TIME BOUND: When do you want to get there? Is it realistic or do you need to make changes in your routine? Can you break it down; what would you like to achieve in a month, six months, a year?
Using this approach, I've created an example of an effective SMART goal for "I want to go running" below. See if you can pick out what makes it SMART.
"I want to run 5km without stopping to take a break. I want to be fitter, meet new people and enjoy being more active. I'll head out 3 times a week and build my distance up each week until I reach 5km. I will follow a walk-run program to break it down into chunks like the Couch to 5k app on my mobile. The app will easily plan my training each week and track my progress over 9 weeks. I'll follow the whole plan by doing my runs in the morning, after dropping the kids off at school. I also will take part the Acme 5K event on the 1st March."
Let's break it down. It's specific. It says what I want and why I want to do it (motivation). It's measurable in frequency, as I can track if I am going out 3 times a week and it also shows progression in distance. It's achievable, as I've chosen a plan that breaks down the training. The app is relevant, as its an easy way to help me work on and track my goal. The plan is already time bound, but signing up to an event or activity shows commitment.
You can create goals like these on your own using the SMART approach. There's lots of information online about SMART Goals and plenty of free templates to try (like mine below).
Some people prefer to use a journal, others find they need more accountability
Some people prefer to use a journal, others find they need more accountability and work with a coach to figure out their 'what's, whys and how's' and get motivation and support along the way. Getting a coach is a great way to help you unpack what you want to achieve, define why its important to you, working with you to create a plan that fits your world and keep you honest! If this is you, I can help!
Adelle Adams CNM Dip.HC is a qualified Health Coach (College of Naturopathic Medicine) and a member of the UK Health Coaches Association. As a certified Health Coach and Wellness Specialist, Adelle primarily educates and motivates clients to assume more personal responsibility for their health by adopting a healthy attitude, lifestyle, and diet. Articles posted are not a substitute for professional medical or nutritional advice and treatment.
Click here to book your Free 30 Discovery Call if you want to know more about working with me to reach your goals.
Get your free SMART Goals Tracker here!