One practical way of setting goals is to use the SMART mnemonic. While there are several variants, SMART usually stands for:
S = Specific
M = Measurable
A = Attainable
R = Relevant
T = Time-bound
Specific – Set specific goals that are fairly detailed. Do not set a goal to “lose weight”, set a goals to “lose 24 pounds.” Goals that are specific help us to focus our efforts and clearly define what we are going to do. If a goal is too vague, it is hard to measure or determine if you are successful in reaching it.
Measurable – Establish criteria for measuring the progress toward the attainment of each goal you set. Do not set a goal to “run faster,” but rather set a goal to “run a mile in 6 minutes.” If it is not measurable it will become almost impossible to tell if you are successful or to take the goal to the next level.
Attainable – Set goals that you can attain. If a goal is not attainable, you may lose motivation and fall short of your goal. You may also lose some self-confidence.
Relevant/Rewarding – Set goals that you will feel good about attaining or achieving that is relevant to your life. Rewarding and relevant goals provide intrinsic motivation to achieve them. If a goal is not rewarding or relevant you may loss the desire to achieve it.
Time-bound – set a date on when you plan to achieve your goal. Do not set a goal to simply “lose 24 pounds,” set a goal to lose 24 pounds by November 1.” Without a specific date for completion, you may lose your commitment to achieving it.