Don’t just drift through your life. Use this goal setting worksheet printable to set smart goals and move forward with intention.
Need direction or working hard without the satisfaction?
When it comes to achieving our best intentions, I find myself feeling one of two ways. Either I feel lost and adrift in all the busyness of the world or I work hard and do lots of things, but still don’t get the satisfaction of having done the right things to achieve my goals.
Those feelings mean that I need to take a moment to clarify my goals and set S.M.A.R.T goals to work towards. Learning about this process has not only improved my productivity but also level of satisfaction at the end of the day.
This blog post is a continuation of my Reset Your Life series. I previously talked about drafting my life plan here. However, the life plan document is a general mission statement type of plan. You outline your major goals and dreams for the various categories of your life – from health to career to family, etc.
Whatever your life plan contains is perfectly fine and suited for you. We all start somewhere and we all want different things. The problem is that we usually set goals that are very high-level and vague. It’s similar to setting New Year’s resolutions. For example, goals like losing weight or feeling happier or making more money – those are all valid goals and wants on your life plan.
However, you need to take the next step in using that information to set concrete goals that you can achieve.
That’s why we need to focus on S.M.A.R.T. goals which is a mnemonic from the project management world that helps us set an objective that we can actually follow through on. The letters stand for different attributes we need for every goal.
S for specific
M for measurable
A for achievable
R for relevant
T for time-bound
Some of these might be self-explanatory, but going through an example will help to clarify each attribute. So let’s take losing weight and formulate a goal that is actually S.M.A.R.T.
If we set a general goal of losing weight, it’s extremely difficult to know how much weight is enough to consider yourself successful. That’s why sometimes you work hard and get results, yet still don’t feel satisfied. It’s because you didn’t define what success truly is for the particular goal. We need to go through the five letters to refine the goal into a clear objective that we can tackle and finish successfully.
First, we need to be specific, so for losing weight you need to put a specific number of pounds to truly understand what you are shooting for. Is it 10 pounds lighter or 50 pounds? Or is it getting down to a particular dress size?
Second, we need it to be measurable. So this is easy for losing weight, because you simply have to track your current weight and over time, keep weighing in to see how much weight you have lost. That’s why it makes sense to have a number of pounds or number or sizes to lose. Often specific and measurable go together. In the past, you might have just wanted to lose weight generally, but dropping 5 pounds doesn’t feel like an accomplishment anymore, if you didn’t define that as success. You have to be able to measure your progress and know where the finish line is.
Third, we have achievable and this is something you need to decide on yourself, depending on the situation and perhaps your past performance. Giving yourself the goal of losing 80 pounds in one month might be too much of a stretch, right? So consider a goal that challenges you, yet still feels within reach.
Fourth, we have relevant and I tie this back to my life plan to help evaluate if a goal is actually helping me to get closer to my life plan objectives or not. Is it worth it and does it actually align with your ultimate goals. In my process of resetting my life, I use the items listed in my life plan to come up with my goals, so they are definitely relevant.
But this is an important aspect to consider whenever you take on a new project or idea, because often we get lured into doing something exciting that ultimately doesn’t even align with our life plan.
Finally, we have time-bound which is to give yourself a deadline to help schedule this goal out. Depending on how much time you have, you might have to adjust your specific goal as well.
Let’s go back to our losing weight example. Maybe we need to lose 20 pounds before our wedding date in one year or whenever the final dress fitting might be. Or maybe this is a long term goal to fit into a size 10 by 2025. So it might actually make more sense to simply pick the next milestone, so a certain number of pounds by a date or certain size by a closer date. It’s a lot more approachable than plopping down a giant goal that goes way too far into the future.
Whatever goal you have, make sure to go back through the S.M.A.R.T. goal attributes to finalize the details. It’s best to be able to write your goal in one sentence, so that you can motivate yourself by re-writing and re-reading it often. Once you have a goal to shoot for, then you just need to plan your project and start one step at a time!
Goal Setting Tips
I have found that having a goal setting worksheet really helps to work through a goal that I’m considering. Seeing it all on paper helps with clarity, finalizing the details and even determining if the goal is worth shooting for at the end of the day.
If you have your life plan template complete, it should be fairly easy to go down the list and write does all the goals you have chosen for yourself, following the S.M.A.R.T. guidelines. The process of goal setting helps you set your life direction with intention, so you achieve precisely what you want. As you continue with this process over and over again, you will raise your self-confidence as well.
Of course, remember that it’s easy to get carried away in this process. We all have big dreams and we want to get there as fast as possible. But we have to be realistic to our life situation and resources available. So just take some moments to evaluate if your goals are exciting and challenging enough, but also attainable. Remember that you can always break up goals into different milestones, so start with phase 1 or part 1 first. Smaller chunks are always more approachable and easier to accomplish.
Finally, I wanted to mention also this idea of performance goals rather than outcome goals. Although sometimes we need to be specific with outcome goals – like if you really need to lose those 10 pounds to fit into a wedding dress. But other times, the specific outcome might actually not be in your control – or even be exactly what you ultimately care about.
With more experience you might have enough information to know that if you take certain actions you will certainly achieve certain outcomes. But often this is not the case, so when it comes to a list of goals, I think it’s good to mix them up so you have some outcome goals as well as some performance ones.
Performance Goal Setting Example
Let’s go through an example of what I mean by performance goals. Going back to losing weight, maybe you don’t actually care about your weight number or dress size. Maybe you wanted to lose weight because you know you need to eat healthier and feel better about yourself. So a performance goal is based on things you can do and control, rather than what might or might not happen as a result of taking those actions.
Here’s what I mean – consider someone who has a lot of trouble losing weight. They might not know if it’s even possible to shed those 50 pounds by a certain date. It’s all new territory. And of course maybe they just want to be healthier and a specific weight number might really be arbitrary. So think about what can you change or do that would certainly contribute to losing weight. Maybe like switching to a vegetarian diet, meal planning at least the weekdays and stick to it for 3 months before reassessing.
The idea is that the goal is really a serious of actions you can definitely achieve, it’s all in your control. You don’t really know how much weight you might lose at the end of that time, but you do know that you can meal plan 5 days a week, switching to vegetarian healthy meals for 3 months.
Performance goals are especially important if you are new to goal setting or you have little experience in what you are doing, so you can be sure on outcomes. A lot of people have income goals. But you will never know if you can sell enough or get enough clients to hit an income number without more experience. So you can switch it to a performance goal of things you can control. Like making 5 sales call every day. Or adding 5 products to your shop every day. Those are specific, measurable things you can do that would contribute to your income. You don’t know if someone will be your client or buy your product at the end of the day, but ultimately you can only concentrate on what is in your control.
So that is basically the difference of performance goals versus outcome goals. I think there is a place for both kind of goals, it really depends on your situation, your experience and many other factors.
Goal Setting Worksheet
To make the process more straightforward, I’ve created a goal setting worksheet printable that you can download to use for evaluating your goals. Whatever dream you have in mind can be evaluated using this free worksheet. Afterwards, you will have much more clarity on what you want, if it’s possible and be on your way to the next step of translating your goal into an actual project plan.
Think of this worksheet as a way to brainstorm and work out any thoughts you might have in relation to the specific goal. Don’t worry about getting all the steps or information exactly right though, because your project plan will actually have those details. This worksheet is for formulating your goals. Afterwards, if you decide to go for it, then you can create your project plan of tasks to work on.
I hope this goal setting worksheet printable will help you with your planning and remember to print as many copies as you need. If you are anything like me, there are so many goals and dreams to evaluate and it makes sense to consider them all and then pick the most exciting high priority ones. Here’s to taking action with intention and moving forward with more clarity.
This free printable is part of a series shared on this blog to help reset your life. Here are the other related posts:
- 2020 printable binder cover
- mantra: I Believe in Progress Not Perfection
- first step: brain dumping printable
- Life Planning Template
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