Ready, Set, Goal!

By Amy Brightman, LCSW

Many of us put pressure on ourselves to not only do more, but also be successful at it all, and feel good about it. I often hear people say, “I have a lot of things I want to do, but I haven’t done them yet.” This causes people to spend a lot of time thinking about what could be or what they want, leaving little time for how to get there or how to get it. This is where setting goals comes into play. Setting goals keeps you motivated, creates control, and helps you recognize achievement. Additionally, being able to directly influence your wellness and accomplishments improves your confidence. Recognizing the benefits of goal setting helps you get ready—setting them is the next step.

When you set goals, you want to consider the big picture or long term goal. Consider different areas of your life: financial, family, intellectual, physical, social, emotional, career, and personal. Begin by pin pointing one of these areas of your life where you want to make progress and then break it down into smaller goals. Continue breaking it down until it is a SMART goal:

A SMART goal is: 

Specific: Define it in terms that anyone could understand, and avoid it being too general. A goal of "go to the gym three times per week" is much more likely to be accomplished than simply, "exercise more."

Measurable: Give it parameters so you can track your progress and know when you achieve it.

Attainable: Challenge yourself, but also make sure that it is realistic.

Relevant/rewarding: Make sure it is consistent with your long-term goal.

Time-bound: Give yourself a time frame for when you will accomplish it.  Without any urgency it is more difficult to muster up motivation.

Couple your SMART goal with other skills and resources that will help you stay on track. For example, keep a schedule, write a daily to-do list, set alarms, find a goal buddy, and create rewards. When progress is made, recognize it. Treat yourself and make plans with a friend. And when a slip up happens, be easy on yourself. Reflect on what got in the way and how you could overcome this barrier in the future. Remember: you can always change, modify, postpone, or add goals. The key is to make them SMART.  

Amy Brightman, LCSW is a therapist at Cobb Psychotherapy.  If you are looking for support with setting and achieving your goals, visit to learn how therapy might be able to help.