Setting SMART goals will put you on the fast track towards achieving the life of your dreams!
The start of the New Year is a great time to work on goal setting and setting SMART goals, but any time of the year is a great time to work on setting achievable goals for success. Setting goals and achieving them works best if you commit to doing a goal review regularly to keep yourself on track. Set SMART goals and commit to reviewing and reassessing your goals weekly, monthly, quarterly, or annually to achieve success in every area of your life!
Goal Setting 101
Goal setting can help you reach your goals to achieve success in every area of your life. I like to review and reassess my goals at the beginning of the New Year, but any time of the year is a great time to set goals. I like to do my annual goal review just before or after the New Year as a part of my household rhythms. Although I may get lazy about doing it–I never forget that it’s that time of year!
For some, this means they start working on goal setting on Samhain because it is the Celtic New Year, while others set goals on or after January 1, the start of the calendar year. No matter which you choose, the beginning of the year is a great time to make resolutions, commit to healthier habits, and set goals. Of course, it is best to conduct a goal review at regular intervals throughout the year to keep yourself on track.
Committing to a weekly, monthly, and or quarterly goal review can be beneficial towards accomplishing the goals that you set out to achieve because it keeps you focused on the action steps and tasks that you must complete to reach them. Commit to your dreams by setting SMART achievable goals with actionable steps and doing a weekly, monthly, or quarterly goal review.
How to Set Goals
To create new goals; First, re-evaluate any prior goals or resolutions that you may have made in the past, if any. If you have never made a goal in your life, move on to step 2 in the goal creation process.
Step 1 – Review Prior Goals and Resolutions
If you have a prior goal-setting worksheet, now is the time to get it out for review. If not, you may want to invest in our Dream Life Tool Kit. It includes several printable worksheets, including a goal review that make accomplishing your goals a lot easier. Follow your dreams and create a life you love with our Dream Life Tool Kit!
How to do a Goal Review:
A goal review requires that you evaluate your progress towards the goals that you have set. Ask yourself the following questions to get started! We have a printable weekly review worksheet that you can use for your weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual goal review, included in the Rhythms of Play Dream Life Tool Kit.
- Do you have any goals that you are currently working toward?
- Have you written your goals down and created an action plan to complete them? If not, get started now!
- Do you have any prior goals that you would like to delete or amend?
- Are you making progress towards any of your goals in the way that you would like? Why or why not?
Use this information to re-energize the goals you are still working towards.
Related: Free Habit Tracking Printable
Step 2 – List Current Life Categories
Make a list of your current life categories. In other words, create a separate category for every current area of your life that is important to you. Include areas in your life that you would like to manifest or create. If, for example, you are single and looking for a relationship, or married with the desire to start a family, or out of work and looking for a job, you can choose to create goal-setting categories for these goals to achieve them.
Feel free to add or subtract anything you’d like from the categories listed below to make it your own. Make it a reflection of your current life and values.
- Financial Well-Being
- Health & Wellness
- Household Management
- Education/Personal Development
- Creative Projects
Step 3 – Do a Brain Dump
After you have decided on your current life categories, get out a pen and paper and write each one down on its own sheet of paper. You want to have plenty of room to work. Make sure you have plenty of room to write, scribble, doodle, and get creative.
Some people like to put each category at the top of the page to make a list, while others like to put it in the middle of the page to make a mind map, as shown in the photo below–use whatever technique works for you.
Writing Down Goals Stage One
This is not the time for fancy goal-setting worksheets. The first stage of writing down goals is messy and imperfect. You want your subconscious mind to get involved in the co-creation of your goals. It is also not the time to pretend that you can work on goal setting in your head. Many people believe that the key to achieving your goals is writing them down. Don’t skip this first step, or you will only be cheating yourself.
Follow your dreams. Start by asking yourself a few simple questions: What do you hope and wish for in each of these areas of your life? What would you like to happen, or would you like to change, if anything? This is your chance to let it all go, get it all out, and get messy!
No need to think about logistics yet, or if any of your goals look too lofty or overwhelming at the moment. We will be breaking these down into more manageable steps later. Just keep writing. Get all your desires, dreams, and goals down and out of your head. Projects you’ve always wanted to start, projects you’d like to finally complete. All of it–keep writing, doodling, and letting your mind flow. Focus on getting everything you can think of down on paper until there is absolutely nothing left.
When you are finished writing down everything you ever dreamed of doing or finishing, it’s time to create a master goal list before fine-tuning all of your dreams, wishes, and projects into SMART goals. Use the tips in the next section to get started.
Step 4 – Create a Master Goal List
To do this, use a goal-setting printable worksheet like the Master Goal List Found in the Rhythms of Play Dream Life Tool Kit. Or, take out a clean sheet of paper, or create a word document, to write down your top three goals in each area of your life. Creating a master goal worksheet will jump-start your goal-setting ability by providing you with a framework for success to achieve your goals.
Step 5 – Choose Top 3 Goals to Work Towards
Next, take out another sheet of paper, create a new word document, and write down your top three goals from your Master Goal List. Choose the top 3 goals that you want to work on attaining now. These are usually the ones that hold the most passion or are time-sensitive in some way.
Take a moment to think about why you want these things for yourself and if these are goals worth pursuing right now–or if focusing on that goal is something that you can commit to at this time in your life. If it is not, you may want to reevaluate when it would be a better time to pursue that particular goal. This is one of the many ways to make your goals SMART.
For example, you may have the goal of going to law school, but you just had a baby. You might want to put off actually going to law school for now and instead focus on the things you can do at home during your spare time to prepare to go to law school as your goal.
Create Balanced Goals to Make them more Achievable
Choose goals that balance and support each other. I am a firm believer in the idea that you can only give away what you first give yourself. Selecting a self-nurturing spiritual practice such as getting outside, bible study, yoga, meditation, or exercise as one of your goals builds balance and contributes to the successful completion of your other goals.
Next, choose 2 more goals that balance and support each other. If, for example, I knew I would be moving during the year, I would make moving one of my goals because it is both something that I have to accomplish and is time-sensitive. I’m going to move whether I’m ready or not, so why not prepare for it by making it a goal?
Last, I would choose to get organized, simplify, or declutter to support the move. Or, I could choose something business or career-related to keep myself on track in that area of my life during the move. These goals would both support each other and keep my priorities in check. This type of goal setting will lead to success because you make your goals more achievable.
Once you have decided on 3 goals to pursue that support and balance each other, put away your master list until your next monthly goal review.
Step 6 – Make Your Goals SMART Goals
Now that you are finished writing down your goals and have decided on your top 3 priorities, it is time to start fine-tuning them. Begin by making each of your goals SMART. The goal-setting worksheet in our Dream Life Tool Kit is a great tool for this.
The “SMART” acronym was originally coined 30 years ago by Peter Drucker in his classic work, Managing for Results.
SMART goals are:
S – Specific
- Goals need to be as specific as possible. SMART goals should answer questions related to who, what, where, when, why and how. Instead of saying, “I want to lose weight,” try for a specific goal such as I will lose 20 pounds by next Christmas.”
M – Measurable
- Goals must be measurable. If a goal cannot be measured, it is NOT a SMART goal. You need to be able to assess whether or not you are making progress toward your goal for it to be measurable. “I’m going to exercise a minimum of 30 minutes per day 3-5 days per week” is much more measurable than, “I’m going to exercise more.”
A – Attainable
- You cannot achieve what you don’t believe. SMART Goal setting requires that you believe that you can accomplish the goals that you set for yourself. Setting goals that seem unattainable is a recipe for failure.
- If there is a goal that you would like to achieve that seems unattainable, make one small step toward that goal your first goal towards that end goal. Once you reach that small step, make another small step your next goal. Continue to take baby steps that you believe you can achieve until the end goal is reached.
R – Relevant
- Your goals should be relevant to you and your current life situation right now. Does the attainment of this goal fit with your personality? Is this goal something you should be doing now or later? Does this goal positively add to your life? Make all of your goals relevant and SMART by asking yourself these types of goal-setting questions.
T – Time-bound
- Setting a due date or time frame to complete a goal, or set of goals, can help keep you on track and keep your goals measurable. Having time-bound goals can also help you monitor and assess your progress. Instead of stating your goal as, “I want to make a six-figure income,” try saying, “I want to be making six figures five years from now.”
Once you’ve worked on SMART Goal Setting and made all of your goals SMART, you are all set to accomplish them.
SMART Goal Setting for Success
You did it! You have three shiny new goals all set to accomplish. Congratulations, to a SMART goal setting job well done!
You’re well on your way now…
Many people say that the key to attaining your goals is writing them down. Kudos to you. You’re halfway to living the life of your dreams!
Learn the next action steps to help you attain your goals in How to make an action plan to accomplish goals.
Learn more about Rhythms of Play HERE!