“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” – Lao Tzu
What better time to write about achieving your goals than the beginning of a new school year? The beginning of a new school year to me feels like January 1st for others. I like to begin the school year creating goals for myself and asking my students to set goals. I introduce them to SMART goals.
S – Specific: What exactly will you do?
M – Measurable: How will you know you will meet your goal?
A – Achievable: Can you actually do it?
R – Relative: How much does it mean to you?
T – Timely: When will you accomplish your goal?
Taking the time to turn a vague goal into a SMART goal can set you up for success. When I ask my students to write goals for the school year, many will write something vague, such as “get good grades.” I ask them to turn that into a SMART goal by probing them with the following questions: What do you define as “good grades”? Will this goal be measured by a number of grades or your grade at the end of the quarter? Given your previous academic record, does your goal seem achievable? I encourage students to set fairly short-term goals as long-term goals can be overwhelming. I talk to students about focusing on the first quarter of the year before thinking about setting a goal for the entire year.
I’m someone who loves to set goals. I’ve always had a tendency toward looking at the future with optimism and excitement. One of my current goals is to eat healthier, but this is such a vague goal and one that I have failed at many times. I fail for many reasons: I’m not dedicated enough to my goal. I can be an impulsive eater. I enjoy eating unhealthy food because it tastes good. In order to achieve my healthy eating goal, I need to be more specific with my goal. My new goal is to eliminate all candy and junk food from my diet beginning tomorrow until next Friday the 14th. If I achieve this goal, I will allow myself to enjoy unhealthy food at the fairs and festivals that are coming up that weekend. Now that I’ve shared this goal publicly, I’ll feel embarrassed if I don’t achieve it.
Accountability is key. A few years ago, I set a goal to run 1000 miles in one year. I shared my progress through a blog and that helped me to stay on track toward my goal. In the end, I came a bit short of the 1000 miles, but many of those miles would not have been run if it weren’t for the blog. Find someone or something to hold you accountable. If you’re feeling brave, share your goal with me by commenting on this post. 🙂
Last week I was listening to a podcast episode called “Simple Steps to Make Healthy Eating Easier” from Pick the Brain Podcast. The episode talked about how people don’t achieve their goals when they don’t truly want to achieve them. The podcast hosts described some methods to overcome the barriers to achieving your goals. What I took away from this episode is that it’s important to dig deeper and ask yourself, “Why?”. For example, ask yourself: Why do you eat unhealthy? Your answer might be: Because I like unhealthy food. Then ask yourself: Why do you like unhealthy food? Your answer might be: Because it makes me feel better when I’m stressed. Continue asking yourself “why?” until you get to the real root of the problem. The deeper you dig, the more honest you will be with yourself and the closer you will get to understanding the root of what is preventing you from achieving your goals and how to overcome that problem. Today I want to encourage you to dig deep, ask yourself “why?,” share your goal, and start setting out to achieve your goal!
Believe in yourself.