How to Set a Goal and Stick With It

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We each know the feeling of setting a goal, or perhaps making a New Year’s resolution, that we never reach. It may have been a resolve to eat more vegetables, go on regular walks, or keep a daily journal. Oftentimes, we set well-intended goals, but struggle to keep up with them. So what’s the secret to achieving your goals?

Tips to Achieving your Goals

Focus on 1-3 GoalsIt’s tempting to make a long list of everything you want to achieve or fix, but it can delay your progress and leave you overwhelmed. Making a list of all your goals can help you prioritize and see which few you want to really focus on. 

Create a Vision Board. Visualizing your goal can help you achieve it. Creating a vision board, which is a collage or schematic of images and/or words associated with your goal, can keep you conscious of your goal and why it is important to you. You can hang your vision board on your refrigerator or create one as your laptop screen saver. Seeing your goal daily keeps your goal in the forefront of your mind.

Find a Goal Buddy. Seek out a friend, family member, or teammate that may have a similar goal as you. Having another person who is working on the same goal can keep you motivated and accountable. For example, if your goal is to go walking twice a week, schedule set times throughout the week to exercise with a friend. While it would be easy to bail on going walking if you were going alone, canceling on your friend is much more difficult.

Construct a Plan. Organizing your thoughts about your goals can help you progress and stay focused. One way to do this is by creating a S.M.A.R.T.E.R. Goal.

So, what is a S.M.A.R.T.E.R. Goal? It is a framework that helps you provide clarity on your desired outcome to ensure you set realistic and meaningful goals for yourself. Here’s what that looks like:

How to Make a SMART Goal

Step 1: Write down your goal in as few words as possible.

Step 2: Make your goal SPECIFIC.

  • Answer who/what/when/where/why

Step 3: Make your goal MEASURABLE.

  • I will measure/ track my goal using (numbers, methods, tools):
  • I know I’ve reached my goal when…

Step 4: Make your goal ATTAINABLE.

  • What I need to achieve my goal: 
  • How I will find the time:

Step 5: Make your goal REALISTIC.

  • List why you want to achieve this goal:

Step 6: Make your goal TIMELY.

  • I will reach my goal by: (date) ___/___/_____
  • My halfway measurement date will be__________________: (date) ___/___/_____

Step 7: EVALUATE your goal.

  • List how you will evaluate your goal:

Step 8: REWARD yourself.

  • How will you reward yourself along the way?

Special thanks to Kianna Cook, 2020 summer intern with the N.C. Cooperative Extension, Alamance County Center for collecting the content for this article!