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  • Kara Tolman, LCSW

Goal Setting (And Accomplishing)

It is the start of 2022, and you might have found yourself thinking about new goals for the year. It's easy to fall into the trap of wanting to set New Year’s resolutions only to find yourself burning out on your new goals before January is even over.

There are many reasons why we as individuals are unable to attain goals- not knowing how to get where we want to be or our goals being too vague, too difficult, or being caught up in external forces that are out of our control. Not meeting resolutions can conjure feelings of failure which can result in us losing track of all of the positives we *have* accomplished.

The path towards setting goals is important for self-motivation and to give us a sense of purpose and meaning. It can drive us to strive for something that feels bigger than we are. When setting new goals for a new year (or whenever really), start by examining your core values.

When we do not live aligned with our values, it leads to feelings of dissatisfaction and unhappiness. Use your values to highlight areas of life that are over or unattended to.

Once you have examined your core values and find an area that you want to work on that feels important, next you will want to focus on creating a plan or SMART goal. A strategy for setting goals is to make them: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time bound- also known as SMART.

  • Specific (simple, sensible, significant)

  • When setting your goal, it should be clear and specific. Ask yourself:






  • Measurable (meaningful, motivating)

  • A measurable goal should address:

How much

How many

How will I know it has been accomplished

  • Achievable (agreed, attainable)

  • Your goal should be realistic and attainable. Focus on what behaviors you will use to get to this goal and how realistic the goal is overall for your season of life.

  • Relevant (reasonable, realistic, and resourced, results-based)

  • Aligning with your goals is important for self-motivation and that sense of overall purpose. If the goal does not feel relevant for your current life season, you may feel less motivated to follow through. This is when knowing your core values can come in handy.

  • "Time bound (time-based, time limited, time/cost limited, timely, time-sensitive)"

  • Each goal you set has a target date.

Examples of SMART goals:

Non-Measurable: “I want to be less isolated in 2022.”

Measurable: “I will reach out to Amber twice this week.”

Non-Measurable: “I want to have less anxiety in the grocery store.”

Measurable: “I will use a deep breathing and grounding exercise the next time I go to the grocery store before I go in and while I am there.”

Setting goals can be difficult and sometimes even scary. Once you have created a SMART goal, you can also create a schedule for yourself to help with following through. Consider asking for help or finding a community of support in meeting your goal. Over time, check in on how you are doing. Reassessing how far you have come with your goal can help show if you are keeping focused on your core values or have gotten sidetracked.

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