After a week or two of enthusiastically taking steps towards your goal, you find your motivation wavering. Within a month or so, your efforts have completely dropped off. You might feel disappointed in yourself, but you don’t know how to get back on the wagon and dedicate yourself to your goals for the long haul.
You need to set goals and plot your course by using a structured framework that will help you stay on track. Here’s how you can use the acronym SMART to make new habits stick so that you can accomplish your goals.
Coming up with a vague goal is a recipe for disappointment. For instance, saying that you want to get in shape is fairly ambiguous. Instead, think about what you specifically want to achieve. Do you want to run a mile under a certain time? Would you like to master a few particular yoga poses that you’ve always struggled with? Are you interested in training so that you can tackle a difficult, multi-day hike?
Narrow down your focus so that you can sum up your goal with a specific statement.
In order to achieve your goal, you need to continuously make measurable progress towards your core objective. The best way to do this is by getting into new, consistent routines.
Decide how much time you want to spend each week working on your goal. This could mean going to the gym three times per week for one-hour sessions. If you want to write a book, you could commit to writing 1,000 words each night. If you’re hoping to improve your flexibility, you might want to spend a half-hour stretching every morning. You can use a calendar or planner to check off dates when you successfully meet your commitment.
It never hurts to dream big. But overestimating what you could realistically accomplish will only set you up for disappointment. For instance, if you’ve never written a book before, deciding that you want to write five novel-length books in one year is likely not achievable.
It’s important to assess your current experience, resources, and skill set so that you can evaluate whether a particular goal will genuinely be achievable.
Why do you want to achieve this specific goal? What is your core motivation? If a certain goal isn’t particularly relevant to your life, you probably won’t be able to muster up the dedication you would need to achieve it.
Consider why you want to go for this goal. Is it because society makes you feel like you “should?” Is it related to expectations that other people have placed on you? If you’re not personally interested in this goal, think about shifting your focus to a goal that makes you feel genuinely motivated.
Finally, giving yourself a “deadline” for your goal will help you figure out how much time you need to dedicate to your progress each day. If you leave your timeline open-ended, you might not feel like you need to be consistent in your efforts—after all, you have all the time in the world to get it done!
Instead, make plans to achieve your goal within a year to six months so that you can give yourself milestones and benchmarks to achieve over the coming months.
Are you struggling to stick with new habits and achieve your goals? Working with a therapist can help. Reach out to us today to discuss your options for scheduling your first session.