Goals give us a sense of purpose. They help us focus on the factors of our life that we can control and make better. We all have areas of our lives that we wish were different. While some things in life are out of our control, each of us has the power to make choices and set goals, no matter what difficult situations and setbacks we may be facing.

Not all goals are created equal. You are much more likely to achieve the goals you set if they have these components:

  • Specific - Saying you want to exercise more probably won't get you very far. Setting a goal to exercise three times a week is specific.
  • Measurable - You can measure goals in a variety of ways--time, frequency, quality, quantity, etc. If you aren't measuring your goals, you won't know if you are making progress.
  • Attainable - Is the outcome of the goal within your control?
  • Relevant - Does your goal make sense with your current life situation and your values?
  • Timely - Setting a time frame for completing your goal will make you much more likely to work on it.

You can think of this framework as setting "smart" goals and ask yourself if your goal fits these five categories to set yourself up for success.

As you start to think of a few ways in which you would like to better yourself, you can follow the steps below for effective goal setting:

  1. Write down your goals, both short term and long term. When you write down your goals, they become much more concrete, and it will be easier to hold yourself accountable for achieving them.
  2. List the steps you will take in order to achieve each goal. When you break a goal down into smaller steps, it helps you determine exactly what you need to do in order to reach your goal and stick to it.
  3. Check to see if each goal is a "smart" goal. By using the guidelines above you will have a plan for reaching each goal.
  4. Revisit your goals daily. Determine whether you have made progress. Write down any progress that you have made as well as what you can do to improve your progress. Reflecting on your goals regularly helps you stick with them, and it also gives you the chance to make adjustments to your goals as needed.
  5. Remember that setbacks happen. It's okay. We will all experience setbacks at one time or another when working towards our goals. A setback doesn't mean you need to abandon your goal—it's an opportunity to learn how to keep moving forward. Being able to persevere and move forward after a setback is in itself a success.

Goal Setting Worksheet