Think about a goal you set for yourself recently. What do you know about that goal? Is it short-term or long-term? High priority or low priority? Did you spend the time to fully articulate what it would take to achieve this goal? Have you achieved this goal (or simply made progress)? How do you know you’re making progress toward your goal?
Too often we set goals without actually having answers to these questions, myself included. When we don’t take the time to define the task we’re setting out to achieve, create an action plan, set a timeline, and actively monitor progress, time goes by and our goal falls to the wayside. It’s a frustrating and all too easy trap to fall into. That’s why when you’re just starting out, it’s important to structure your goal as a SMART goal.
Why Writing SMART Goals is Essential for Success
SMART goals are actionable goals designed to establish a clear understanding of what you want to achieve and how you plan to get there. SMART is an acronym, which stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time bound. I have my clients write their SMART goals down in a chart and answer questions to help define the goal, how to measure it, what is needed to make it realistic, where it fits into the bigger picture, and what the deadline is for completion.
SMART goals are structured to work because when you visualize your goals and set concrete plans, you’ll actually do what you need to achieve them. They hold you accountable with actionable steps and a deadline, which means you’ll effectively follow through. However, we’re not perfect, and sometimes we encounter obstacles that derail our progress.
Top Obstacles We Face When Working Toward Our Goals
All of my clients have goals they are very capable of achieving. However, they often face the same challenges along the way that either slow or halt their work. It’s important to recognize your obstacles so you can find solutions to get you back on track. Are you experiencing any of the obstacles below?
Time Issues: You’re too busy or overwhelmed to focus
Resource Issues: You’re in need of tools, insight, guidance, and support to move forward
Confidence Issues: You know you need to take action, but you’re not sure what to do or whether you have the right abilities
Direction Issues: You have too many options and variables to know which path is right for you
Momentum Issues: You know what you want to do, but can’t seem to get started or make progress
Complacency Issues: You don't like the way things are, but it's better than the unknown
When you’re facing these kinds of obstacles, it’s easy to lose sight of success. You waste time, get frustrated with yourself, and make excuses, which are not productive ways of handling these problems. Sometimes you have to rip the band aid off, hold yourself accountable, and tackle these issues head on.
How to Overcome Your Challenges In Achieving Your Goals
Though it can be overwhelming to conquer your goals, there are strategies you can take to make sure you achieve them.
#1: Write (or Revisit) Your SMART Goals
If you haven’t made your goal into a SMART goal, do so immediately. Think about what you need in place to make sure you put yourself on a path to achievement. If you have written a SMART goal and it’s not working out for you, figure out where the breakdown is. If it’s too general, get more specific and create an action plan to keep you on track and give you direction.
Consider blocking off time on your calendar to work toward the goal, as this way you’ll have dedicated time to make sure the task gets done.
Additionally, ask yourself if you’ve given yourself the resources you need to succeed? What would it take to really give yourself a chance to achieve this goal? Have you given yourself that chance?
And finally, make sure your deadline is realistic—be generous with yourself but don’t allow time to slack off.
#2: Break it Down Into Smaller Increments
Sometimes the goals we set for ourselves can be big and overwhelming. In this case, it helps to break the goal into its smallest increments—this way it won’t seem as immense or time consuming. Each step will have its own time frame (again, block time off on your calendar and assign individual tasks to time blocks to ensure it gets done and solve your time issues). Assess and reevaluate along the way. Also, consider if you need any new training or networking opportunities. If these are resources you need, build them in as increments toward achieving your goal. By checking off small achievements, not only do you build momentum and confidence, you make measurable progress toward your goal.
#3: Lean on Your Peers
For me to be successful, I need the support of my network. My peers help build me up when the going gets tough, offer their advice and expertise, and also hold me accountable toward making progress. When others know I’m working toward a goal, it’s a lot harder to slack off because they’ll call me out. And when I’m struggling, they motivate me to keep going. That’s why my colleague, Alyssa Adams, and I created the Momentum Collective, a goal setting collaborative that provides guidance, facilitates conversation, promotes accountability, and helps professionals feel seen, heard, and understood as they make their way through challenges toward success.
If you’re struggling to meet your goals and think you need an extra push, sign up for the Momentum Collective and be part of a community designed to help you accomplish everything you set out to do!