smart goal setting worksheet

Set Goals That Get You Somewhere! 5 Ideas That Really Work

It’s January again and everyone is talking about their resolutions. Maybe you feel like you should be making some too. But, how can you set a goal that really works? One that you don’t quit in 2 weeks. 

You might feel like you are falling behind your peers and your potential. Life is flying by and here you are in the same spot you were last year. You tell yourself that you should have goals but you aren’t inspired. Yet, you want more…

You want to get somewhere in life.

Except working towards goals feels like drudgery, something you should do, and would do if could only make yourself sit down and pencil them out. You are wondering if you are just lazy…

You don’t need to feel judged or ashamed because you don’t have goals. You aren’t lazy and you aren’t flawed. 

The problem is with how you have been thinking about goals and how you might have set them in the past. This year, try setting your goals with the SMART-ER framework instead. 

1. Put some power into your goals

You have probably heard of SMART goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-Bound. This framework has been around for years and has helped thousands of people set better goals because you know when you get there and it sets you up for success. 

But, there are two crucial elements missing: Exciting and Resonant. These are what make goals worth it. If you start with your “Why”, the rest of your goal setting and getting will happen with ease. In fact, it’s even better to start with E and R and then figure out the SMART part. 

Below are some ways to bring Excitement and Resonance into your goals so that they are more meaningful. Using the tips below, you will make the process of achieving your goals more fun and rewarding to increase the likelihood that you succeed.

2. Set your true north

Let’s do the Resonance test first. It comes from setting goals in alignment to your values. We want our goals to be in alignment with at least one value. If your goal is only aligned with one value, it would need to meet it powerfully. Better yet, would be to find goals that are meeting nearly all of your top values. 

For example, let’s say I have a goal to learn to speak in front of an audience with confidence. I can check in with my Values Assessment to see if this goal meets my personal values. 

My top values are Achievement, Tenacity, Community, Adventure, Challenge, Connection, and Impact. This goal would be an achievement and challenge, check. It would take some tenacity to get there. It would also help me have a more impact and build connections with people. It won’t do much for adventure and community but that’s ok. No one goal needs to meet every need. 

3. Start where you want to end up 

It might seem backwards, but the way to create Excitement around a goal is to start with the end in mind. First, create a vision of what life will look like when you get there. 

But don’t stop there or it can trick your mind into thinking you already achieved your goal. 

It’s crucial that you also envision what accomplishing each step along the way will feel like. So, keep asking yourself why it’s important to uncover more meaning. 

First, I would start with an end-vision of how it would be to have just given a talk where the audience was engaged and I nailed my presentation. And, people are congratulating me on how well it went. 

Next, I ask “Why is this end-vision important to me?”

Beyond the one day of feeling a sense of accomplishment, being a better speaker will be good for my career. I might be called on to deliver more important information if I can be relied on to do a great job. It could help me get the next promotion because leaders have to convey information in an engaging way. 

In my steps to get to this end-vision, I see myself:

  1. Reading a book or two on speaking
  2. Joining Toastmasters and attending weekly meetings where my skills grow over time
  3. Working with a voice coach to present myself better

Lastly, if you can’t find excitement in your vision for both the path to the goal and the achievement of your goal, this might not be the goal for you. 

4. Test your desire

How bad do you want this goal? 

If you aren’t really motivated, it’s going to be hard to stick with it. 

A great test for goals is to decide what you are willing give up so that you can have the time to reach this goal. 

You are probably already busy and if you aren’t willing to give up anything, it’s not valuable enough for you. Not only is not worth it, if you aren’t allocating some time to doing the work, you probably won’t be able to fit it in.

Having an I-don’t-know-how-but-I-am-going-to-make-it-happen attitude is the sure way to getting overbooked and spread so thin you aren’t doing a good job at anything. 

Most importantly, if you are going to give your goal a chance of coming to life, it needs some space and time. The more you are willing to give up, the more likely you will reach your goal. 

For my speaking goal, I can pencil out the following time needs: 

  • Toastmasters meetings = 1 hour/wk
  • To become a Distinguished Toastmaster, 10 speeches, at 6 hours each to prepare = 60 hours
  • Books will be listened to on audio while I work out = 0 hours
  • Book study after listening = 2 hours/book or 4 hours total
  • Voice Coach might be 6 hourly sessions plus study and practice = 12 hours

Total time needed in one year = 128 hours or 2.5 hours per week. I am going to allocate one evening per week to cover the time and I will find a Toastmaster’s group that meets at lunchtime near my work so that I am not trying to do it all in one night when I might be tired. 

smart goal worksheet

What do I have to give up to find the time? I’m going to have to get more done at work to take off a lunch hour each week. I can do that by stepping down from the Safety Committee. I’ve been doing that for 2 years and now is a great time to rotate it to another team member. And, I can easily cut out some screen time one night a week. 

5. Check if you are ready 

Finally, ask yourself, “Do you really want to do this?” and answer with total honesty from your gut. Do you answer with a “Yeah Baby!” or a weak “Sure”? 

If it isn’t a “Yeah Baby!”, then it’s a no. 

Only when you feel fully committed and a bit emotional about a goal should you proceed. 

Let’s get going! 

Now that you have learned how to set a SMARTER goal that also fits the following criteria, you are on your way to success.

1) Exciting and Resonant

2) Aligns with your values

3) Clear vision of the path and outcome

4) It’s worth giving something up to make it happen

5) Honestly, it’s a “Yeah Baby!”

With these steps, you will have the energy around your goals to get to the finish line. No more feeling like you aren’t getting anywhere.

Get started today with a brainstorming session. Try out as many ideas as you like until you find the goal that really gives you that “Yeah Baby!” feeling and dedicate yourself to that one goal. If you target this one goal you can give your total focus to achieving it and skyrocket your chances for success. Don’t worry, keep a list of the other goals and tackle them sequentially.

Once you achieve your goal, you will have something to show for your time on this earth. You’ll no longer be second-guessing yourself, wondering if you are lazy or flawed. You will know that you are one important step closer to what you want to be and that you are pretty awesome just as you are.

NOTE: Want the Smarter Goals Worksheet to guide you through planning out your SMARTER goals? Get it here