Personal goals are an important part of our lives because they guide what we want for ourselves and keep us motivated. However, sometimes we encounter hurdles that slow us down or stop us all together from working towards our goals. A common hurdle we face is having too high of expectations for ourselves. We should believe in ourselves and that it’s possible to reach our goals but we need to be realistic about the expectations that we need to set for ourselves. Setting realistic expectations and goals helps to keep us grounded, and it will remind you that it is okay to take things one step at a time.

So, how do you do this? Set S.M.A.R.T Goals for yourself, and it will ensure your expectations are realistic and your progress can be measured.

Specific: Be specific with what it’s you want to accomplish. What definite thing do you want to achieve? Not being specific can make it difficult for you to determine where to start on your journey and celebrate when you have achieved your goal.

Measurable: Determine what process or indicator will let you know that you’re making progress. What will tell you that you have succeeded at your goal?

Achievable: Take a moment to think about how you will achieve this goal and the process that will you get there. Thinking about this will help you determine if you will need additional support from someone else to accomplish this goal. Remember- things don’t change overnight!

Realistic: Think about whether this goal is realistic or not- do you have the necessary resources to accomplish it? Reflect on what possible hurdles you may encounter and what your action plan would be for them.

Time: Set a target date for when you want this goal to be achieved-be realistic! Set a timeline for yourself that will help you stay accountable and motivated. Life happens, and your goal date may be pushed back but continue to stay accountable.

Remember that YOUR success is determined by your personal definition of success and not that of others, so plan your S.M.A.R.T goals accordingly. There is never a perfect time to start reaching your goals- start now!

Examples of SMART Goals

My goal is to work out for an hour, 5 days a week for the year.

Specific: My goal is to improve my health and to move more.

Measurement: 60 minutes per day

Achievable: My plan to reach this goal is to schedule a workout plan for Monday-Friday.

Realistic: This goal is realistic because I am not challenging myself excessively and I can Saturday/Sunday if I run into an obstacle during my scheduled dates.

Time: Twelve months.

My goal is to take 30 minutes/week to reflect on my journey and current success.

Specific- My goal is to become self-aware.

Measurement- 30 minutes, once a week

Achievable- I will achieve this goal by setting a scheduled time on my calendar where I can’t be interrupted, and I can complete this exercise.

Realistic- This goal is realistic because it’s only once a week there are no time restraints. An obstacle I could face is finding quiet time, to overcome this I will have a set scheduled time for my reflection time.

Time: Once a week, with no end date.

Attend a networking event twice a month for the year.

Specific- My goal is to make new connections and get comfortable with networking.

Measurement- Two events per month

Achievable- I will achieve this by staying connected and up to date with events on LinkedIn and other associations relevant to what I do.

Realistic- This goal is realistic because I am only committing to 2 events per month, and I have the connections for a variety of networking events.

Time: Twelve months.