When we want to achieve something, we create goals for ourselves. These can be day-to-day small goals like finishing work tasks or longer-term goals, like the types of aspirations we often discuss in therapy. Saying we want to be better at something is a start but to give ourselves the best chance of success, we need to think about what we want to achieve a bit more.

In many professions and academic circles, we talk about setting SMART goals to help us structure our thinking. So here’s your quick guide if you’ve never heard of this concept before.

S is for Specific. Define your terms so you know what your life looks like when you achieve your goal. If you want to lose weight, how many kilograms?

M is for Measurable. Commit to a specific figure and note the current figure so you can objectively compare the difference. If you weigh 100kg, maybe you want to lose 10kg to reach 90kg.

A is for Achievable. Are you trying to change something in your control? You can help your friend lose weight but ultimately the responsibility for them dropping the kgs is theirs, not yours.

R is for Realistic. Is the goal relevant to your life and other goals? Is achieving it within your capabilities? With all your other responsibilities in life, is it realistic to say you’ll go to the gym for 2 hours every day of the week?

T is for Timely. What’s the timeline or deadline for achieving your goal? When specifically do you want to lose 10kg by?
Your psychologist (and the Internet) can provide worksheets based on this structure to help you give your goals some direction.