The details of goal setting are often overlooked, but making goals is an important aspect of achieving what each individual perceives to be success. Goals are generally derived from our values, which are those things that are important to us. In working towards goals, individuals have the opportunity to experience the benefits of living in alignment with their values. Doing so inspires a sense of accomplishment, generally improved mood, and maybe even more time for other important things in life, like relaxation or leisure. This is an example of how some goals can be stepping stones to other, bigger, more important goals. Setting smaller, more manageable goals is a healthy approach to reduce feelings of anxiety or stress associated with the big goal at hand.
There are apps, calendars, planners, and more that can help us work towards any goal that one might come up with, be it physical or mental health, academic, or professional aspirations. The SMART goal method helps to refine goals and increase chances of reaching success, whether that is in the context of recovery, troubling patterns of thinking, fitness, medication management, school work, or juggling responsibilities at home. So, what is a SMART goal?
A SMART goal is a goal that is:
S-specific: Be as specific as you can in making your goal. Ask yourself, who, what, where, when, why?
M-measurable: Apply metrics to your goal. Make it concrete. How will you know when you’ve achieved it?
A-achievable: When setting a goal, it should be something that you can truly achieve. Healthy goals encourage growth, not discouragement. Is your goal realistic? Do you have the necessary resource to achieve the goal?
R-relevant: It’s helpful to have an idea of why a goal is important to you and how it relates to your life, your responsibilities, and your other goals. How will your life be different if you reach your goal?
T-timely: Goals that have a specific time-frame attached to them can help to increase motivation, accountability and commitment.
Therapeutic services can help individuals identify values and goals, formulate a plan to reach those goals, and assist when barriers that may feel overwhelming, discouraging, or frustrating arise. If you or someone you know is struggling with setting or achieving any of their goals, or associated stress, there is help and resources available, including professional counseling. Please contact (215) 487-1330 or email us at Greenridge@intercommunityaction.org for more information about our counseling services.
Author: Erin Hopkins Stern, M.A.