Use Smart Goal-Setting Techniques

What is the most important factor of success and achievement? IQ, self-confidence, perseverance?

Actually, that's a trick question. According to intelligence studies, the answer would be none of the above. In fact, the tendency to set goals is the #1 predictor of success.

Your SparkPeople program is based on a goal. You've already taken a key step by setting that goal. Still, you can increase your chance of reaching it (and your future goals) by using some smart goal-setting techniques.

Start with a Long-Term Goal.  Picture the effect it will have, how your life will be different, what you would be able to do differently. Think of the strategy you'll use and who can help you. This is your blueprint. Before you do anything else, write that goal down. Memory studies indicate that the brain forgets 80% of detail within 24 hours and 99% within two weeks. Writing it down keeps the goal fresh and clear in your mind.

Next, create a timeline. This begins with a target date, which you've probably already set. Now you have Point A and Point B; what are the steps along the way that'll take you from one to the other? Think of a series of Medium-Term Milestones you can use to keep momentum high and the path straight. Maybe set weekly or monthly goals to move closer to the ultimate prize.  Milestones can also be achievements that have nothing to do with the scale. Maybe sign up for a walkathon that you wouldn't have been able to do last year.

Finally, plan out the Short-Term Actions that will get you to your first Milestones. These are your daily and weekly nutrition and fitness goals. This is how doing just a little bit every day can help you reach even your biggest goal. By doing these Actions, you stay on track and a permanent, healthier lifestyle is just a matter of time.

Overall, your health goals should be:
  • Realistic: Start off with a goal that isn't too ambitious, so you can sooner experience the thrills of success. Build toward grander goals to keep your motivation high.
  • Specific: Make sure it can be measured and tracked.
  • Forgiving: Leave room for the "1 Step Back, 2 Steps Forward" principle to apply.
  • Crystal Clear: Find a photo depicting or symbolizing what you want. The clearer the point of the whole thing is, the easier it is to stay focused.
  • Valuable: Remind yourself why you want to succeed in the first place.
  • Challenging: What do you wish for? This is the goal that will hold your attention the most. There's no reason our wishes can't become our goals.
  • Rewarded: Every little bit of positive reinforcement helps.
  • Backed Up: Prepare for the unknown with contingency plans before problems come up. Have options waiting that will help you stay consistent in the face of the unexpected.
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Member Comments

Being with SparkPeople I've learned I needed to set a long term goal (1 Year) and the make the steps to get to it. But, I also had to make some short term goals (3 Months), so I could get that feeling of achievement. Report
I appreciate the inclusion of "Forgiving." It isn't planning to fail; it's planning to not give up! Report
thanks Report
Thanks Report
I really like setting SMART GOALS. This activity is always changing and evolving. This article presents a number of sub-points to work through in my journal. As I learn more about making healthy and positive choices for my life, my goals become more clear and defined. Report
I came thinking I would read about the established Goal-setting technique of SMART:
Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-constrained
I was trained in this working officially with Washington State Juveniles after release but before their parole ends.

I stored the print of this article as Use Successful Goal-setting Techniques. But then, I also work on Wiki making suggestions for corrections, titles, summaries, etc. Go figure. Pay no attention to me. No one else does. Report
Very good article, thanks. Report
Realistic - I think I'm ok with this one
Specific - Sparkpeople is helping me with this
Forgiving - That's all I can do - I'm just happy to be back to try (and fail) upwards
Crystal Clear: Photos...will look on Pinterest
Valuable: Oh, that's easy - I have a big presentation to do in a few months
Challenging: Wishes... naja...
Rewarded: I going to try these - Spa rewards are the best rewards!
Backed Up: Contingency plan - keep logging in to Sparkpeople Report
good article Report
Great article, thanks for sharing. Report
Great article! Report
Very informative, thank you! Report
Thank you Report
I really enjoyed this article and have printed it out to implement the steps Report


About The Author

Mike Kramer
Mike Kramer
As a writer and artist, Mike has witnessed countless motivational stories and techniques. See all of Mike's articles.