What Kind of Goals Would You Like to Achieve?
| Posted On Jan 05, 2021 | By: Dr. Linda Bolle
When it comes to setting goals, chances are you’ve heard about the importance of setting goals that are SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. If you’re able to answer “yes” to each of the following questions, you’ll know you’ve set a SMART goal.
Let’s go through an example. Say you’re interested in becoming more health-conscious, and you’d like to “eat a healthier diet.”
- Specific – Does your goal use action words to state what you want to achieve and how you intend to achieve it?
You can make that goal more specific by declaring that you want to “Eat a healthier diet by consuming more fruits and vegetables.”
- Measurable – Does your goal use metrics to specify how you will track your progress and how you will know that you’ve achieved your goal?
To make that goal measurable, you might decide to “Eat a healthier diet by consuming three to five servings of fruits and vegetables each day.”
- Achievable – Is your goal within your span of control and possible for you to accomplish?
Determining if your goal is achievable depends, in large part, on your circumstances. In this case, if you have access to fruits and vegetables and the ability to eat them, it’s achievable.
- Relevant – Does your goal make sense to you and your unique set of circumstances, including your priorities?
If you are truly serious about becoming more health-conscious, then “Eating a healthier diet by consuming three to five servings of fruits and vegetables each day” would be relevant.
- Time-bound – Does your goal specify a date by which or timeframe within which you expect to accomplish it?
To make the goal time-bound, you might decide to “Eat a healthier diet by consuming three to five servings of fruits and vegetables each day, starting next week.” Or maybe you’re not quite ready to take that leap and decide that you’ll begin on January 1, 2021.
While setting SMART goals is great, setting SMARTER goals is even better! So, in addition to setting goals that are SMART, why not take that goal of eating more fruits and vegetables and also make it Energizing and Rewarding?
- Energizing – Is your goal something that you genuinely want for yourself? In other words, does your goal align with your life’s vision, mission, and values?
Using our example above, maybe you decide to go online to search for nifty new vegetarian recipes. Perhaps you re-discover some old favorites or find new mouthwatering ways to prepare some of nature’s bounty.
- Rewarding – Does your goal involve the receipt of something that is of value to you, e.g., a cash prize for superior performance?
Maybe you decide to reward yourself for maintaining your goal by purchasing a vegetarian cookbook, investing in some new cookware, or buying some canning jars so that you can enjoy your home-grown fruits and vegetables year-round.
While setting SMARTER goals is even greater than setting SMART goals, setting the SMARTEST goals is better still! In addition to setting goals that are SMART and Energizing, why not set goals that are also Self-reinforcing (rather than simply Rewarding) and Transformative?
- Self-reinforcing – Does your goal involve the generation of positive emotions, e.g., the sense of pleasure experienced while engaging in a particular activity, the feeling of pride that accompanies a job well done, or the “helper’s high” (stemming from a rush of endorphins) that results from offering others assistance?
Going back to our example, if eating a healthier diet by consuming three to five servings of fruits and vegetables each day gave you such pleasure that you continue to engage in this behavior even in the absence of any external rewards, then it would be self-reinforcing.
- Transformative – Does accomplishing your goal offer the potential to realize a meaningful and lasting change in you and/or your life circumstances?
What does transformative look like for our goal? Let’s say that you’ve been consuming three to five servings of fruits and vegetables each day and reaping the benefits of doing so. You might start to wonder, “What else might I want to do in the direction of eating a healthier diet?” You might decide to eliminate foods containing refined sugar or deep-fried foods from your diet. As a result of eating a healthier diet, you find that you’re feeling more energetic, so you decide to increase your level of physical activity by walking for 30 minutes, five days per week. Your original goal of eating more fruits and vegetables is transformative because it has led to an overall healthier lifestyle.
If you’re like most people, setting goals that hold the promise of energizing, rewarding—or, better yet, self-reinforcing—and transforming you will elevate them to a whole new level, increasing your motivation and improving your chances of success, however, you happen to define it.