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3 Ways to Set Realistic Goals

Peoples legs walking on treadmills
Setting attainable goals can have a snowball effect to good habits.

It’s easy to make promises to yourself, but not always easy to keep them. Try one of these methods to ensure the change sticks.

Make Your Goals SMART

One tried and true way to approach goal setting is the acronym SMART.

Make sure each of your goals are:

  • Specific,
  • Measurable,
  • Achievable,
  • Relevant and
  • Time-bound

The importance of the SMART method is clear.

“Goals should be maps to where you want to go,” wrote Ryan Shelley at SMA Marketing. “If you have vague, ambiguous goals, you’re not going to end up where you want. ”

Want some help putting it together? Download a quick PDF template for working through your goals for the new year courtesy of Fit Small Business.

Create a Timeline for Success (or Revision)

Besides just looking at goals for a certain amount of time, you need to also know when it’s time to assess your progress and perhaps revise your goal journey.

“Setbacks will happen. Sometimes your goals may need to be completely overhauled. This is normal and shouldn’t be a problem,” wrote the advice givers at “Revise your goals as needed so you’re focusing on the most important thing facing you today. If you evaluate your progress and find that your goals were too ambitious, revise them to something more attainable. Better to ratchet down your goals to something more realistic than to abandon them altogether.”

Want help revising goals? Try an online course in goal setting you (or your work team) can enjoy, like this one from LinkedIn or another from Udemy.

Make Your Goals Known

The adage goes, “A problem shared is a problem halved.” And that goes for goal setting, too. When you tell others about what you’re working towards, they can assist you with your journey.

Want to get in shape? Tap a few “gym buddies” to motivate you to leave the house.

Want to save money? Tell your friends so they don’t tempt you with shopping splurges every weekend.

Want to get a promotion? Talk to your boss about your goals and what you can do to make yourself a better employee.

Plus, you can get motivated towards any goal if you’ve got a little cheering section.

“Sharing your progress with others often results in praise for a job well done,” wrote Lisa Evans at Fast Company.  “This positive reinforcement from your social network can motivate you forward to excel.”Need more motivation or instruction? Brush up on the importance of goal setting with one of these TED Talks. Turns out, you’re definitely not alone when it comes to setting a goal and working towards it.

So it’s not about what your goal is, but the way in which you set your sights on it that matters. In the new year, try one of these methods and see if your efforts pay off faster and with more long-lasting effects.

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