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Change Your Life Step-By-Step With S.M.A.R.T. Goals

Change your life with this step-by-step plan for success

Goals2What do you want to do? Most of us want to change something. People who have a job they love want more responsibility or a more flexible schedule. If they’re not working their dream job, maybe they want to change careers or go back to school or start a business. Very few people are truly happy with the status quo. It’s just easier to put up than step up.

But, when you’re ready to make a change in your life you’ll have a better chance of succeeding if you set goals, written goals. For one thing, writing down your goals makes them real. Second, developing a plan will help keep you on track. A well thought out plan will give you something to shoot for every month, every week, every day.

The key to developing any plan is to begin with a S.M.A.R.T. goal. Something that’s Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-framed. Make sure that the Achievable and Realistic parts are achievable and realistic for you. For example, while it may take a single woman five years to get her degree while working full-time, it will likely take the mother of two longer.

Every year losing weight is one of the top New Year’s Resolutions, which means almost everyone, female and male, has wanted to drop a few pounds at one time or another. This means discussing S.M.A.R.T. goals in terms of weight loss is something everyone can relate to. So that’s the example we’ll go over here.

Typically, someone will say his or her goal is to lose weight. If they want to be more precise they may say they’re going to drop a few pounds by summer, before a friend’s wedding, or maybe by vacation. Nothing SMART about that. And usually, they don’t get very far.

A better goal would be “I will lose 20 pounds in six months.” It’s specific, measurable, and time-framed. It’s also probably achievable and realistic for almost everyone. This is a S.M.A.R.T. long-term goal.

While ”losing 20 pounds in six months” is a good long-term goal, can be a little overwhelming. To tackle the goal more effectively it needs to be broken down into smaller pieces. These are your short-term goals. Because a weight-loss plan includes diet and exercise, the short-term goals might include 1) losing 1+ pounds each week, 2) exercising three days a week, and 3) eating a healthy diet. Each of these is a doable piece of the larger puzzle.

Once you have a set of short-term goals you need to have a series of daily activities to keep you on track. These are things that can be checked off on a list or charted in a spreadsheet. Even keeping track of your activities on a calendar will do. Completing each activity moves you toward your short-term goal, which in turn propels you toward your long-term goal.

In a weight-loss plan daily activities might include going to the gym, exercising at home, avoiding processed foods, keeping a food diary, etc. Once you’ve compiled a list of activities plan how many times a week for each one. For example 1) go to the gym two times a week 2) exercise at home once a week 3) avoid processed food four days a week, and so on. Again, these activities need to be achievable and realistic for you – if you work 60 hours a week and have two kids heading to the gym twice a week might not be feasible.

At the end of each week it’s easy to measure your progress. When you step on the scale or take your measurements your progress, or lack of, is evident. It’s also easy to see which activities you completed and, if necessary, tweak your plan. If you didn’t get to the gym as often as you intended maybe it’s time for a different strategy like exercising in the morning instead of after work.

Another essential component of every plan should be a series of rewards. Did you exercise three times last week? Then you deserve a treat. Just stay away from anything that runs counter to your goal. If weight-loss is your goal, rent a movie you’ve wanted to see instead or ordering a pepperoni pizza.

The steps used in this weight-loss example can be adapted to anything you want to accomplish. The key is to start from the end, or finish line, and work backwards. Begin by creating a Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-framed long-term goal. Next, using the same process, develop several short-term goals that support your primary goal. Finally, make a list of daily activities that will keep you on track and move you in the right direction.

No matter what you want to accomplish breaking your goal down to manageable bites is one of the secrets to success. Thinking about losing 20 pounds in six months can seem daunting. On the other hand, exercising three times a week and avoiding processed foods most days seems completely doable. It’s all about taking things one step at a time.

Whatever you want to do starting with a S.M.A.R.T. goal is your best first step. Breaking down your goal into manageable chunks to keep from becoming overwhelmed is the second. Finally, developing a series of daily activities, will keep you focused and on track. Throw in some determination and you’ll soon be well on your way.

Want a step-by-step guide for developing your Goals? Download Stop Dreaming & Start Doing: A Practical Guide for Getting What You Want With SMART Goals from amazon.com today. 

About Annette Richmond, MA

Annette Richmond, MA, CARW, CCELW, is a Certified Resume Writer, Certified LinkedIn Profile Writer, and former recruiter. Her career advice has been featured by Huffington Post, The Chicago Tribune, Forbes, Business Insider, Monster, Vault, and WSJ. She helps motivated, senior level professionals tell their unique career story. She also serves as executive editor of career-intelligence.com.


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