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One regret I have is not being consistent about setting and monitoring progress for personal and professional goals earlier in my life.  A few years ago, I came across the Full Focus Planner, a goal setting/day planner system, and it changed the way I thought about setting goals.

The creator of this planner built upon the SMART acronym to create his own guide for goal setting: SMARTER.  I’ve incorporated this into my own goal setting and have used it with clients when they are working to set goals in therapy or in some other aspect of their life.

Here’s a breakdown of the SMARTER acronym:

  1. Specific –Your goal me be to feel fulfilled or happier. Ok, so what does that look like?  When you imagine yourself feeling happier, what are you doing and how often are you doing it?  Achieving that target might not be the complete solution for your happiness, but it could get you in the ballpark.  For example, you might say you want to make more money.   What is the exact amount or percentage increase you are working to achieve?
  2. Measurable – Consistently measure your progress (daily, if possible) towards your goal. Again, if the goal is somewhat nebulous (such as being happier) then you need to come up with highly correlated measurable behaviors that you can focus on to help achieve your goal.
  3. Action Oriented –Each goal should start with an action verb like “start”, “complete”, “finish” or “quit.” This puts the emphasis on taking action, rather than a passive state of being.
  4. Risky – Personal growth and progress is all about pushing ourselves outside our comfort zones. Therapy can help you gain understanding of how self-limiting beliefs come into play and how to begin to counteract them.  You also have the additional support of a professional as you navigate the challenges that arise as you move towards your goal.
  5. Time Keyed – Set a deadline or timeframe for your goal. If you don’t have a timeframe, just go ahead file this goal under P for procrastinate because that’s what you’ll end up doing. Commit to complete/achieve/do exactly what by exactly when.
  6. Exciting – If you’re not excited about the goal, you’re less likely to work to achieve it. If it’s challenging to get excited about a goal, then you may need to make the reward for the goal more compelling to you.
  7. Relevant – Your goals should be in line with your values, your other goals, and your season of life. For example, if you have two kids under 3, starting an MBA is probably not a realistic goal for now without getting significant additional support.

Step 8

Therapy can help you identify and clarify goals and gain a better understanding of what personal issues may be getting in the way of achieving those goals.  If you need support getting through your personal roadblocks or more outside accountability in reaching your goals, please contact me.  I also work with clients who are overwhelmed by the things they feel they need to accomplish or are not sure how to decide what they want.

If you have any questions or would like help setting and achieving your goals, please contact me for a free 15-minute phone consultation.

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