New Year, Fresh Start!
“Take the first step. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Wise words from Dr. King. The beginning of a new year is a fresh start, the perfect time to set a goal and work toward the wonderful feeling of achieving it. Setting a measurable goal is more likely to lead to success in seeing your hopes, dreams, and plans come to fruition. In addition, setting a goal can trigger a new behavior, and keep you focused on what you want to achieve. And there is the delightful feeling of mastery when you have met your goal.
Our Advance LA Coaches teach our clients to set S.M.A.R.T. goals. A S.M.A.R.T. goal is one that is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely.
The reason for setting a S.M.A.R.T. goal is that you can’t manage what you can’t measure and you can’t improve upon something that you don’t properly manage. Our Coaches explain to their clients that goal setting means choosing something that you want to accomplish and how to take the steps to make it happen. A phrase that our Coaches use is, “If it’s to be, it’s up to me.” This means that a Coach can offer support to their client, but ultimately, it’s the person themselves who is in charge of achieving their goal.
- 90% of successful people set goals.
- By setting goals, a person chooses where they will go in life.
- By setting a goal, a person can achieve more, improve performance, increase self-esteem, and increase self-confidence.
- By setting a goal, a person can feel less stress, concentrate better and feel happier!
What is a “S.M.A.R.T.” goal?
Help the young adult define what is important to them: what do they want to accomplish? Then assist the young adult to decide exactly what they want their goal to be. For example, instead of “get better grades” the goal should be stated as, “I will earn a B or better in my math class.” Instead of “make more friends” the goal should be stated as “I will take a risk and join a school club or attend a club l.a. event this month.”
Include precise amounts or dates so the young adult knows when they have met their goal. For example, “I will complete my math homework every day” or “I will invite a classmate to get coffee after class once a month.”
Ask the young adult to give their goal some real thought. Is it their goal or really their parent’s goal? Is it actually possible or too far out of reach? For example, “I will go for a brisk walk four times a week” may be more attainable than “I will run a 5K race.”
The goal must further the young adult in the direction they want to go in. Review the goal once a month and determine if it is still important to them. Have the young adult talk about their goal with a parent, coach, or teacher. If the goal is no longer of interest, feel free to change it!
A deadline is essential so everyone knows when it is time to celebrate the young adult’s success. It feels great to achieve a goal so choose an end time that is realistic. For example, “I will make my bed in the morning every day for four weeks.”
And of course the best part of goal setting: choosing a reward for when the goal is met. Nothing is better than the feeling of satisfaction of a job well done! If the goal was not achieved, take the time to help the young adult reflect on what happened. Was the goal unrealistic? Did they try their best? And remember, a goal can always be adjusted and a person can always try again!
Goal setting is empowering because it provides a focus and a true sense of accomplishment when the goal is met. Setting a realistic goal is a skill of knowing how to make one’s dreams a reality.
Jeri Rochman, JD, MS
Jeri Rochman, JD, MS, is the Advance LA Director of Community Outreach, a Life Skills Coach, National Board Certified Counselor and Certified Parent Educator. Interested in learning more about Advance LA’s services?