4 Questions to Ask Yourself before Setting a Goal

The New Year – 2018 – is upon us! The majority of people have set at least one new year’s resolution, while many others are still contemplating what they wish to change. Sadly, the goal(s) set are often easily forgotten.


Why is that we forget so quickly? Often it boils down to two main problems: the goal wasn’t that important to begin with and/or there was no pre-planning involved to reach the goal.


Set yourself up for success by applying these 4 questions to each goal or dream.

Is it meaningful… for you? If the goal is someone else’s idea, its highly likely you won’t sustain the interest needed to work toward the goal, much less achieve it! 


What’s the motivation for change? This question is related to the first question. Bottom line—if your goal is to please someone else or to get something from someone/something else, it’s unlikely you’ll be successful.


How will you know the goal has been achieved? This is where the acronym of SMART comes in handy. SMART = Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-limited.  


An example:

My ultimate goal is to work 45-50 hours a week and have 5-10 hours a week for activities supporting psychological wellness.


Beginning Intention/Goal:  I choose to work fewer hours a week to have more time for fun activities

Specific: I will work 1 hour less a day, for a total of 5 hours less each week in the next two weeks.

Measurable: Each day, I’ll track when I arrive to the office and when I leave the office on my calendar.

Achievable: I currently work 55 hour a week, so cutting my hours will not violate any work rules.

Realistic: Goal is realistic because I work more hours because I waste time (or I hate my job, or I use my work to avoid other areas of my life that are not working, etc.)

Time-limited: I will try this for 2 weeks. When I meet my goal of working less hours, specifically 1 less hour a day, I will set a new goal to work 1.5 hours less each day.


Related goals might be to increase fun activities each day by 30 minutes, spend less time socializing at work each day, and check email every hour (or only 2-3 times a day) to be more efficient with time.


How will you maintain willpower and accountability? There is tremendous power in using social networks for support. Who in your life will be a cheerleader for your success? Is your goal big enough that a mentor would be helpful? Maybe you’re at a point where working with a therapist would assist in gaining forward movement. Ensure you will be successful by surrounding yourself with the positive people and supports necessary to reach your goal!


Happy goal-setting for 2018!


Dr. Erika McElroy  

Smooth Rock Psychological Services, LLC



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