by Sophia Hadeka
It’s 2017! As always, the new year empowers many people to set resolutions and “be ambitious”. However, being ambitious is part of being your best self year round. The best way to be ambitious is by setting goals. With a goal in mind, it’s much easier to follow through with the changes you want to make. Unfortunately, even goals with the best intentions can still fall short of expectations. What most people don’t know is there is a formula for setting goals that will work every time. This formula is known as SMART:
Specific- Your goal has to be specific. For example, saying “I want to be healthier” is not a specific enough goal. It can easily be abandoned because it is too broad and overwhelming. A better alternative would be “I want to incorporate more vegetables into my diet.” This goal is much more narrow and allows you to stay on track.
Measurable- Your goal must also be measurable. It is hard to gauge your progress if there is not a way to measure your improvement. For example, saying “I want to be a better runner” does not include any way to measure your progress. Instead, saying “I want to be able to run a mile in eight minutes” gives you a measurable outcome to strive for.
Attainable- Good goals are always attainable. Sometimes, it can be tempting to set goals that are very ambitious, but this is a mistake! Setting unrealistic goals will only leave you feeling discouraged. Instead of saying “I’m not going to spend any money this month” it would be more attainable to say “I am not going to spend more than $20 on things I don’t absolutely need this month.”
Relevant- Your goal should also be relevant to your current needs. At the age of 18, it is not relevant for me to start saving for my retirement yet. Instead, it is more important that I focus on being able to pay for my college education. By keeping your goals relevant, you are less likely to abandon them.
Timely- Lastly, your goals must be timely. It can be tempting to set open-ended goals that do not have a deadline. Unfortunately, this often leads to procrastination. By giving yourself a deadline, you are also giving yourself motivation to accomplish the goal. For example, saying “I will have four pages of my research paper written by next Monday” allows you to structure your work so you will finish on time.
I use these criteria every time I set a goal, and I find that it has made it much easier for me to accomplish them. With persistence and patience, you can do almost anything. Are you ready to be a goal-getter in 2017?
Love from Vermont,