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Setting Goals

Why and how to do it!

Written by SpunOut | View this authors Twitter page and posted in employment

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Goal setting is a way of planning for the future. Setting goals allows you to get out there and achieve your dreams, instead of just keeping them as ideas in your head. Goal setting involves setting specific goals and targets for yourself, and then doing your best to meet them.

How to set SMART goals

Many people use the acronym SMART to help them plan and meet their goals. The acronym SMART says that goals should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. So you should: be clear about your goals (specific), have a way to measure your goal (measurable), set a goal that you can actually achieve (attainable), set a goal that is realistic (realistic), and have a set time frame for when you will meet your goal (timely).

Lots of companies use goal setting in a targeted way to work with their employees. The most obvious example is in sales and marketing, since employee commissions are usually based on specific goals and commissions.

Why is setting goals helpful?

People like to meet goals. You will feel a real sense of satisfaction if you meet your goals.

Goals focus you. Dr Edwin Locke studied goal setting in the 60s and he found that people are more likely to achieve their ambitions and dreams if they set goals.

Goal setting can lead to greater efforts. For example, if you simply dream of being fit, that won’t get you far. However, if you set a goal of going to the gym three times a week or walking a certain amount of miles per week, you are more likely to succeed.
Goal setting improves mental and physical health and leads to higher levels of confidence and self-esteem.

Smart concept on a chalkboard.
Setting goals is the smart thing to do!

Top tips for setting goals

Ask yourself what areas of your life you want to improve. School/college, finances,  relationships, career, health and fitness, confidence/self-esteem? Choose one or two areas and focus on those.
Make sure to use the SMART acronym:

Specific. Make sure that your goals are very clear i.e. "I will walk an hour every day for five days a week", rather than "I will walk more."

Measurable. Make sure that you can measure whether your goal is actually being achieved. You could measure time spent on the activity, for example.

Achievable. Set yourself a goal that you can meet. If you normally eat fast food every night, are you really going to be able to cook all of your meals from scratch from now on?

Realistic. Similar to the above, set a doable goal. So, aim to learn the basics of sewing before you set a goal of producing three custom made dresses.

Timely. You should have a time limit for your goal. Otherwise, you may never achieve it, as there is no finish line. A few months to a year are enough for most goals.

Your goals should chanllenge you 

Make the commitment to follow through with your goal, even if it gets tough. This is why it is important to set a challenging, yet realistic, goal.If you are looking at a big goal, cut it into smaller chunks. So, maybe your long term goal is to become fluent in French; well, set a target of being able to communicate basic things first.

Be detailed and write it down. Apparently writing goals down makes you more likely to achieve them.Keep goals positive. Instead of "I want to improve my crappy career", think "By the end of the year I’d like to have found a satisfying new job."

Look for help. You might be able to more easily achieve your goals with help, i.e. with the aid of a professional trainer, a cooking class, a careers counsellor, an evening course etc.

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Published Decem­ber 19th2012
Last updated July 13th2018
Tags goals work
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