The research in positive psychology clearly shows that the ability to have and attain goals is closely related to happiness and a sense of self-worth. In fact, in her book The How of Happiness, Sonja Lyubomirsky describes how a commitment to pursue our goals can also help us cope better with problems in times of crisis.
Some goals however, seem too big to achieve (if not unrealistic). Narrowing down your goal to something small and specific is an easier way to increase motivation and the likelihood of achieving your goal. In order to facilitate the elaboration and commitment to pursue your goals, one simple technique can help make your goals a reality by facilitating the process. This technique is called the S.M.A.R.T. method. S.M.A.R.T. refers to:
S = Simple
M = Measurable
A = Attainable
R = Relevant
T = Time frame
First of all, your goal must be simple (or simplified). Try to operationally define your goal to the point where it is very specific. An example of this would be from saying you want to increase your health to wanting to learn emotions management techniques to better handle your negative emotions.
The next step involves tracking your progress by further breaking down your goal (and sub-goals) into measurable objectives. Signing up for an emotions management program, learning a new technique every week and/or keeping track of your emotions and responses to them through self-monitoring allow you to see your progress and modify your strategies if necessary.
The next two steps involve analysing if these goals (and sub-goals) are attainable and relevant. Is managing your negative emotions a realistic goal for you? Is the timing good for you? Is it important for you to learn how to better manage your emotions? If the motivation and ability to achieve your goals are lacking, chances are you will have difficulties achieving them. Intrinsic motivation for goal attainment increases your drive to follow through with your plan. Having the skills to follow through with the desired action is also an important factor to consider when elaborating your plan to achieve your goal.
Finally, allotting a specific time frame to attain your goals (and sub-goals) gives you the proper motivation to take each step, one at a time, and ultimately reach your goal. Furthermore, it allows you to hold yourself accountable for taking a small step towards your goal by a specific time frame.
One way to capitalize on this accountability is to create a positive peer pressure resource. Let people close to you in on your goals and have them check up on you. Smokers who try to quit are more successful when they have the support and help from the ones they love. Obtaining the services of a Life Coach is another way to facilitate the attainment of your goals. What is your goal?