Want to Make a Change?
By Jenny Schaafsma, PhD
Goal setting is an incredibly helpful way to make a change. Perhaps you want to reduce your substance use, incorporate exercise in your life, manage feelings of anxiety, engage in self-care, etc.
It's easy to get caught in goal setting traps that don't set us up for success.
For example, we may set too broad of goals, set unachievable goals for ourselves, not be connected to the values that underlie the goals we are setting, or not be able to concretely assess our progress. There are numerous strategies to aid in goal setting. I'd love to share one with you!
It's about setting S.M.A.R.T goals!
S.M.A.R.T. is a mnemonic acronym that provides criteria to support the process of setting and achieving goals. It stands for specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely.
Examples of goals that are not S.M.A.R.T:
- Study for Psychology Exam
- Exercise More
- Stop drinking
- Call friends more
- Complete work project
Let's turn two of these examples into S.M.A.R.T Goals!
Goal: Study for Psychology Exam
S.M.A.R.T. Goal: Study for Psychology Exam from 5:00pm to 6:00pm this Thursday
- S)pecific - in the date and time frame (Thursday 5-6)
- M)easurable - I will know when I got it done, whereas study more I could not measure
- A)chievable - studying for one hour is feasible for me on Thursday whereas more than that is not due to other commitments I have
- R)ealistic - this is realistic for me, whereas a longer time commitment for Thursday is not
- T)imely - I do have the time to do this
Goal: Exercise More
S.M.A.R.T. Goal: Exercise two times this week on Monday before work and Wednesday after work
- S)pecific - in date and time frame (Monday & Wednesday)
- M)easurable - I could not measure "exercise more," but I can assess whether exercising happens on Monday and Wednesday
- A)chievable - it would be too much for me to commit to exercising everyday with my schedule
- R)ealistic - previously exercising zero days, therefore, two days is realistic for me
- T)imely - I can create the time to do this, whereas, three days would not be timely for me right now
What's a goal you have for yourself? Is it S.M.A.R.T? My challenge for you is to adapt your goal using the S.M.A.R.T strategy.
Let's set you up for success!
About the Author
Jenny Schaafsma, PhD
Jenny Schaafsma is a Psychologist at HRA Psychological Services. She provides individual counseling and assessment services for young adults and adults.