Goal setting 101: tips for achieving your goals

I recently started working on a Firefox add-on centered around keeping your short term goals visible whenever you open a new tab. The project was coming along until I realized I need to rewrite it using the new “web extensions” format. In-between day-to-day development work and teaching, figuring out how to do that is proving to be more painful than I hoped. But I digress.

The add-on was originally inspired by one of the concepts mentioned in this post. If you’ve ever done some goal setting, you may be familiar with SMART goals. It’s an acronym to assist in setting relevant goals. It stands for…

S – Specific
M – Measurable
A – Attainable
R – Realistic
T – Time bound

This isn’t going to be about SMART goals since there are plenty of posts about the topic itself. In fact, let me google that for you.

However, staying on track with your goals can be tough. When it comes to goal setting, I find there are simple things you can do to help you reach your goals a little easier.

1. Keep your goals visible.
When you are trying to form a new habit or reach a new goal, it’s best to have prompts for yourself. Remember new years resolutions? Most people don’t. When you’re juggling multiple things, it can be hard to remember what you were intended to focus on in the first place. Do whatever works for you. Post its. Visible simple lists. Phone reminders. Whatever gets the job done for you! Keep them visible in your daily routine and you’re much more likely to move forward with your goal.s

2. Break your goals down into achievable pieces.
It’s easy to make big goals. “I want to be able to do 100 pushups!” you declare. If you can’t even do 5 pushups, 100 will seem infinitely far away. That’s discouraging. Instead, break it down into smaller achievable goals (first 5, 10, 20 etc.). You can still have your main goal but smaller sub goals will give you quicker wins and allow you to work towards checkpoints.

3. Simplify things. Focus on 1 or two goals at a time.
Similar to point number two, it’s easy to get excited and overwhelmed by many goals. Keeping your mind focused on one or two things makes it easier to get something done. You have less context switching and less distractions. In the short-term, it can feel more productive to accomplish one goal, rather than make progress on multiple goals.

4. Check in regularly.
It’s important to check in on how you’re doing with your progress. Even if you don’t hit your goal by your deadline or you find yourself behind schedule, it can be good to re-evaluate if your goal is appropriate. This is why the T in SMART is important. Your timelines may have been unrealistic or you may have had unexpected roadblocks. Check in weekly, bi-weekly or whatever schedule works for you. Make adjustments as necessary and focus on making progress.

Hope you enjoyed my tips!

How do you stay on track? What are your tips for helping you reach your goals?


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