What Does Goal Setting Mean To You?

We all go into a new year, a semester, a month, a week or even a day having a goal in mind. This can be anything from telling yourself you will save more money this year or thinking how much you’d love to get an A in that science class. We create these goals so we have something to reach to, to attain, and to, overall, feel a sense of accomplishment. Goals move us forward through any aspect of our life, like in our academics, careers, health and even relationships. But, are we just setting goals without actually breaking them down? How are you going to save more money ? How much will you save? Is it attainable? How will you get an A in the science class? What actions will you take to make sure you get there? These are all questions we have to consider when setting each goal. Most people call this “SMART goals,” one of the tried-and-tested methods of setting and achieving goals.

S – Specific: Be specific in exactly what you want your goal to be. Consider the five W’s: Who, What, Where, When and Why.

M – Measurable: Track your process throughout your aim in accomplishing the goal.

A – Achievable: Be real with yourself. Develop a goal that is not out of reach or below your standard.

R – Relevant: Examine how your goal is significant to you, your career, health, studies, and so on in your life.

T – Time-bound: Create not only one end time limit to your goal, but several along the way.

Setting SMART goals will guide you towards your goal. If you just have your goal in your mind without a plan, it’s likely you will end up procrastinating or forget about it all together. Write out your goals, keep track of them, and remind yourself of where you want to be in a month, year, etc. Writing out your mission motivates you to keep up with them and allows you to easily reflect on your behaviour and habits throughout your journey towards accomplishing your goal and even post-goal. Maybe you are exactly where you imagined yourself to be, or you may find that you’ve gone above and beyond. 

It’s important to note that there isn’t one correct way to set goals, however. For some, it’s a significant part of their lives but for others, it’s a simple task. You may find that setting goals without a strict plan is the best way for you to accomplish your goals whereas others may need to plan it out. The SMART guideline is a way for you to plan out and think about your goals instead of wanting something to be a goal.

But what happens when you fail? When you don’t attain your goal that you may or may not have been planning out? It’s natural that we fear failure, and that may be why most of us don’t set goals, don’t write our goals down or break down our goals with the SMART guideline, because ultimately we fear that we will fail, after all the energy and effort we put into it. However, failure can’t be an excuse to give up. Take failure, reflect on it and examine where you went wrong, why you didn’t attain your goal. You’ve still gained something from your failure which is a learning experience to understand what you can change for your next goal.

Sometimes, we can get caught up with goals and forget about our mental and physical health too. We drive ourselves too fast that we forget to slow down and remember the small things we are already doing to take care of ourselves. We may not recognize we are setting goals while getting tasks done that we don’t give ourselves enough credit for. These often may be simple goals people achieve everyday but aren’t recognized as a “traditional goal.” For example, finishing reading a lengthy reading for your course, or bringing a homemade lunch to school that day are all little things that can contribute to what you’re working towards on the larger scale. These goals are just as significant as your long-term “dream” goals because they build up positive habits and energy for your mental and physical health overtime. It also motivates you to make the most out of each day and drive you to keep going.

Feel free to share what goal setting means to you by tweeting us @RUStudentLife!