It’s January, and you know what that means. That’s right, it’s resolution season. Sometimes it can seem like you’re going through the motions and coming up with meaningless resolutions just because it’s what you’re supposed to do at the start of the new year. But it’s important to remember that no matter the time of year, goal setting is an incredibly useful tool for personal development.
Goals give you direction. Without some idea of what you want to achieve, it’s not just hard to know whether you’re on the right path, you don’t even know if you’re on a path! In the words of Lewis Carroll, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.” By having even a rough idea of what you’re aiming for, you’ll be able to guide your decisions and avoid just floating around.
Goals can transform huge obstacles into manageable steps. Say you want to buy a house one day. Right now, it seems like an impossible, far off dream that might never come true. But by taking the time to think about how you can get closer to that big goal this year (say, by saving up X amount of money), it gets a little bit easier to imagine the big goal actually happening.
Setting goals allows you to measure progress. When you set a goal, you’re marking the starting point of your journey. It can be hard to see improvement in your day-to-day life, but by having that starting point as reference, you’ll be able to look back, compare it with where you are now, and see how far you’ve come. Of course, the best way for a goal to positively impact your life is if you actually follow through with it! And one way to up your chances for success is by making your goal the best it can be.
How to Set Effective Goals
Be SMART About It
One of the most popular ways to approach goal setting is by using the acronym SMART. If you haven’t heard of it before, SMART stands for:
- Specific – Think about the who, what, why, and where of your goal. Be as explicit as possible.
- Measurable – You need to have a way to measure your progress. Ask yourself how much or how many. For example, instead of saying you want to run more, say you want to be able to run a 5K.
- Attainable – Of course, your goal should be something that’s actually doable. Consider your personal time and financial resources.
- Relevant – Does this goal matter to you? Is now the best time to be doing this?
- Time-bound – If you don’t have a deadline, is it really going to happen?
Break It Down and Schedule It InNow take your SMART goal for the year and break it down even further. Think about how far along you want to be in six months, three months, or even a month from now. Think about the things you can do every day or every week that will bring you closer to achieving your goals. And then put it in your calendar schedule it into your life.
Like we talked about earlier, breaking goals down into smaller parts can make it more manageable and easier to accomplish.
Tell Others, Or Don’tSome people swear by sharing their goals with others for accountability. Others say that keeping them to yourself will actually make you more likely to keep going. What it really comes down to though is how you personally see obligation. Are you more likely to do something when someone expects you to? Or do you only do things that you want to do?
If you find that pressure from others helps you to get things done, then share your goals with people! But if you’re someone a little more contrarian who likes to do things specifically because someone told you not to, then it might be best to keep your goals to yourself!
Goal setting is a fantastic resource when it comes to creating a life that you love. But it’s easy to stumble or lose focus along the way. By remembering why you set those goals in the first place and how important they are to creating structure in your life, it makes it a little easier to stay on track.
What are your goals for this year? We’d like to believe that yoga is somewhere on that list!