Goal Setting for Success: Short- and Long-Term

You can use a system for setting goals to increase your likelihood of success. Studies show that the best way to achieve a goal is to break it down into small, specific steps that are realistic and achievable. In this manner, you can change your habits gradually. This system is called SMART goal-making.

SMART goals include the following types of goals:

  • Specific: Perhaps you're having a hard time getting in some aerobic exercise daily. A specific goal would be to walk 20 minutes or more a day.

  • Measurable: A measurable goal is one that you can evaluate to see whether or not you accomplished it. To make your goal of walking measurable, specify that your goal is to walk a minimum of twenty minutes a day, four days a week. You can objectively verify whether you met this goal.

  • Achievable: If you haven't been doing any exercise, you don't want to begin with a goal of walking for one hour a day. Start with a goal that you know you can do and focus simply on getting it done.

  • Reasonable: Achievable and reasonable are closely related concepts. In theory, you may be able to do something, but given the circumstances of your daily life, you cannot do it. For example, if you work eight hours a day, it's not reasonable to assume that you can train three hours a day. Start out by trying to fit in 20 to 30 minutes and build from there.

  • Timed: Set your goal in a particular time frame. For example, set your goal to walk 20 minutes or more a day, four days a week for one month. Be sure the time frame you select is specific and that you can verify in your calendar that you did it.

With so many details to stay on top of, wedding planning can be overwhelming. When the big picture starts looking too big, adapt the SMART workout plan to suit your wedding routine. Break your plans down into small, specific steps you can tackle in a reasonable time frame, and you'll be more likely to feel you have everything under control.

Studies show that SMART goals work. This type of goal-setting allows you to focus on your behaviors and on what you're going to do on a regular basis. It's like the traditional Chinese saying: “The journey of 10,000 miles begins with a single step.” To reach your ultimate destination, you need to break down the journey into smaller steps. Travel down your road to success by continuously putting one foot in front of the other.

Try to eliminate threats to your goals before they occur. For example, if environmental cues tend to sabotage you, eliminate them from your surroundings; if you see a bag of cookies and have to eat them all, don't keep bags of cookies in your cupboard. Instead, stock your refrigerator with fresh, sliced fruit or veggies for easy to grab, healthy snacks. Make it easier on yourself.

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