3 ways to get closer to achieving your goals

Shift your thinking about goals with this proven approach to setting goals in a way that increases your chances of achieving them.

By Stacy M. Peterson

Think about your goals. Do they reflect your values and the vision you hold for your future? Are you excited about them, or are they on your to-do list to please someone else? When goals are meaningful and relevant to you, they can provide direction, meaning and a marker of progress. Find out more about an approach to goal setting that increases your chances of accomplishing your goals.

Make your goals SMART

SMART is a proven approach to achieving goals by making them:

  • Specific. Close your eyes and see yourself doing something. For example, "I can visualize myself eating a vegetable as an afternoon snack each day to help my weight-loss efforts, but I can't see myself simply stepping on a scale and losing weight."
  • Measurable. Include components that you can track, such as duration or frequency of your walks. Measurable goals can serve as a great marker of progress.
  • Attainable. This is the Goldilocks rule — find something that's "just right." Your goal should feel like a comfortable stretch; not too much, not too little. Challenge yourself beyond your comfort zone, but not to such a degree that you feel overwhelmed and anxious just thinking about your goal.
  • Relevant. I believe this is the most important component. Make your goal meaningful and important to you — not your family member, doctor or employer. As much as you may want to accomplish something because someone else wants you to, the most lasting change comes when you identify deeply personal reasons for doing it. Connecting your goals to your values and vision will compel you to make changes.
  • Time-limited. Establish a realistic deadline. Having an endpoint will allow you to pause and reflect on successes and key learnings and change course if necessary. Often people move on to the next goal without recognizing and reflecting on their progress.

Increase your chances of success by working through these three steps to goal setting.

1. Set aside some time to understand the reasons behind your goal. Don't move forward until you can answer these questions:

  • In what ways does this goal align with my personal values?
  • How does this goal get me closer to my vision for my future?
  • What excites me about the goal?

2. Once you've identified your goal, break it into smaller daily or weekly tasks.

  • To help determine if this goal is the right size for you, rate your confidence on your ability to achieve it, on a scale of 0 to 10, with 0 being least confident and 10 most confident. If your confidence level is below a 7, that's a cue to break your goal down to smaller tasks.
  • Begin tracking so that you have a snapshot of your progress to look back on.

3. Share your goal with someone else.

  • Allow yourself to be vulnerable and share your aspirations with someone else. This can create stronger relationships, encouragement and accountability.
  • Find a role model who practices the goal you aspire to achieve.

If you haven't had much experience with goal setting or haven't achieved goals you've set in the past, don't be afraid to try again using these tips. Choose an activity you're likely to follow through on. And consider getting help. A wellness coach or life coach can provide additional support.

Nov. 29, 2016 See more In-depth