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Mindset

Why Setting Smart Goals Is Important and How to Improve It

Goals are important if you are want to accomplish big things. However, goals in themselves are not enough: You need to set smart goals that bring you to your destination and not just point in a direction. So let’s dive into the topic of smart goal-setting, so you can accomplish the big things you dream about!

End Goals vs. Means Goals

We are not used to thinking long-term and so we have a tendency to confuse means goals with end goals. They are two very different things, though.

End goals are those big goals – your final destination in some kind of area. For example, one such goal could be to “contribute positively to the growth of 1 billion young people by 2030”. This goal describes the end of your journey.

Means goals, on the other hand, are the smaller goals that will enable you to achieve your end goals. So for example, a means goal for the end goal above might be “found a company that offers development programs for young people” – it is a big goal in itself, but at the same time also only a means to a greater end.

Always begin with your end goals. We tend to focus too much on the means goals, like “getting a university degree”, “getting a great job”, “finding a great partner” – they’re legitimate goals in themselves, but ask yourself WHY do I want to reach those goals? What’s the underlying goal they’re helping me reach? Ask yourself: Is this the final destination or just a milestone along the way?

SMART Goals

Goals give you a great sense of direction and give you something to work towards, but if you set vague, fuzzy goals, it’ll be hard to stay motivated and to reach them. For that reason, we recommend you think in terms of SMART goals – regardless of whether it’s a means goal or an end goal:

S like Specific (Is your goal still wobbly, then finetune it, make it more specific)
M like Measurable (Can you quantify your goal?)
A like Achievable or Attractive (Is the goal really important to you?)
R like Realistic (Do you believe that you can achieve your goal?)
T like Timebound (When do you want to reach your goal?)

Why Smart Goal-Setting Is Important and How to Succeed at It

Pinpoint exactly what you want to achieve: “I will live healthily” is not a specific goal, nor is it measurable. “I will eat 0 sugar and work out 4 times a week” is a specific smart goal that you can easily track.

The best smart goals are those that also include a time and location. So for example: “I will meditate every morning at 7 AM on my couch.” This goal is so specific that you’re left with no room for interpretation. You know the what, the when, and the where. Now all you need to do is to do it.

Once you have made a list of such smart goals, put them in your phone calendar, set up reminders, or create a timetable you walk past every day, so you stay reminded. You can also create a visualization and have it as your desktop or phone background (we’ll look closer at that in the next section). Anything to help keep you on track. Putting in the work required to reach our goals is never easy, but there are lots of ways to make it easier to stick to your habits. Let’s look at a few of them.

Sticking To Your Habits

Our brain is hardwired to do things that are: 👉 obvious: something in your environment reminds you of the habit 👉 attractive: you know the habit will have a positive outcome 👉 easy: it’s easy to do and requires little effort 👉 satisfying: it feels good to do it

So when you design your habits, try to make them fulfill these criteria. For example, if you want to do yoga every morning, you could roll out your mat every night before going to sleep and lay your workout clothes somewhere you’ll walk past first thing in the morning (obvious). You could find a yoga video in the evening and make it ready on your phone or laptop (easy), so it’s the first thing you see. You could also create a calendar or a checklist where you could leave your mark after the yoga session in order to make a little reward for yourself (satisfying). Then in the morning when you feel unmotivated and tired, everything will already be ready for you, so you’ll probably be much more inclined to see it through (attractive).

Even if you do all of this, you might still struggle to stay on track, so here are five ways to help you through the period of building your habits. Once it’s become part of your routine, it will become a lot easier – but that requires some time.

  1. Start Small: Make your habit goal very small, so instead of meditating 30 minutes every day, start with just 1 minute.
  2. Grow Slowly: Increase your smart goal slowly. You don’t want to increase it so fast that it becomes too big an effort to naturally do every day. Don’t go from 1 minute meditation to 10 minutes in a week. Seriously, take your time. It’s better to have 1% improvement everyday than 1% decline.
  3. Divide into Chunks: As you increase your goal, try breaking it up into chunks to make it more manageable, so for example if you’ve reached 20 minutes of meditation, perhaps break it up into 2×10 minutes, so you don’t make it too hard for yourself.
  4. Never Miss Twice: It happens that we miss a day – we get ill, we are traveling or something comes up that breaks our routine. Leave room for that, but also make sure never to miss twice. Missing once is okay, but missing twice is already turning it into a habit.
  5. Be patient: Good habits take time to achieve and big goals take time to reach, so be patient and find ways to track your progress. Maybe you print a don’t-break-the-chain calendar to help you visualize your successes or you fill a jar with coins or stones for every time you succeeded in sticking to your habit.

If you want to learn more about how to set epic goals, read on here! These tips should help you reach any goal whatsoever. It will probably take time to get where you want to, but if you don’t start and don’t move, you’re never gonna get there, so #takeaction and get going! 🔥

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