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Goal-Setting 101

Having fun on the trail. Ellie Lane, ©2021, Clemson Extension

Having fun on the trail.
Ellie Lane, ©2021, Clemson Extension

The month of January is associated with new beginnings and opportunities to become a better version of yourself. A large part of manifesting these improvements involves self-awareness and the ability to set specific and actionable goals.

Self-awareness is a tool you can practice to consciously observe the habits, thoughts, behaviors, and personality traits that represent who you are. When you pause to reflect on these elements of yourself, you can better understand what brings you joy and perhaps subtle areas for improvement. Once you have identified an opportunity for growth, it is necessary to establish S.M.A.R.T Goals to help you take steps to achieve your desired outcome.

What are S.M.A.R.T Goals?

S – Specific A brief but detailed explanation of exactly what you would like to accomplish.
M – Measurable Identify milestones you can reference to track progress towards reaching your goal. How can you be successful if you do not know what success looks like?
A – Attainable Do you have the resources, skills, time, and confidence needed to accomplish your goal?
R – Relevant Reflect on your goal and make sure it contributes to your bigger plan.
T – Time-Bound Choose a deadline for completing your goal. This timeframe should be realistic for you and used as motivation to accomplish your goals on time.

Ask yourself – what do I want genuinely want from life? Set large scale-goals that you hope to accomplish over the next 10 to 15 years first. These types of goals will drive your behavior. Then, add specifics using the S.M.A.R.T. Goals tool to help break your big goals into smaller stepping-stones. Short-term goals will direct your behavior. Finally, establish a reward system for reaching your goal. The reward should keep you motivated during the process of behavior change in actual times of need.

Writing goals down can be another way to stay accountable, as you are less likely to forget about them. As you jot goals down, be intentional with describing details of dates, times, amounts, motivations, and why you chose them. This information can help you track progress and increase confidence as you reach small goals along the way.

Goal-setting gives you direction, and practicing self-awareness helps you prioritize what is important. This powerful combination provides motivation and a sense of control over your future. You may even recognize gaining a sense of purpose along the way and great personal satisfaction once the goal is complete.

Whatever your goal is this year, remember: mindset is everything. “Whether you think you can or can’t, you’re right.” – Henry Ford

Are you looking for goal inspiration this year? How about focusing on your health? Visit https://hgic.clemson.edu/category/health/ to brainstorm!

If this document didn’t answer your questions, please contact HGIC at hgic@clemson.edu or 1-888-656-9988.

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