Did you know September is National Self-Improvement Month? With summer winding down and the kids heading back to school, it’s the perfect time to check in and see how your goals for the year are coming.
Many people use SMART Goals to set themselves up for success during the year. We showed you how here. Even with that approach, it’s possible to “fall off the wagon” and “fail” at your goals. If that’s happened to you, here’s how to get back on track.
Get Back on Track with Your Goals
First, review them and reassess if they’re still achievable and/or desirable. Things change. Maybe the goals you set in January no longer make sense. Consider changing dates or other benchmarks if they are still important to you.
Next, break it down into smaller daily tasks. Getting back in the swing of things can be overwhelming if all you’re looking at is the big goal. Instead, set up smaller daily tasks you can complete that bring you closer to the big goal. Use an organizer to record these daily and ensure you complete them. Each one creates momentum toward your larger goals.
Third, figure out what isn’t working—life changes. Maybe going to the gym used to work, but now you prefer to exercise at home. Great! Change or eliminate your larger goals to accommodate the change in your lifestyle.
Lastly, make a start, even if you’re scared. Big goals can feel overwhelming to the point of paralyzing you with fear. Take a deep breath and make a small start. Falling off the goals wagon doesn’t mean you failed. It means you learned what doesn’t work. Let that go and try again a new way.
Alternative Goal Setting Ideas
SMART Goals are great, but they don’t work for everyone -if that feels like you, try one of these alternative ideas instead.
Shorter Time Frames
Setting year-long goals are great in theory, but in today’s fast-paced world, they may not make sense. Set yourself up for success with a shorter-term focus. Try 90 days and see how that goes.
Focus on Optimization
Many times goals are about “fixing” something that’s not working. Again, that sounds great in theory, but in reality, it can make them scary and hard to reach. So instead, look for ways to optimize what’s already going well. This method helps teach self-compassion, builds self-esteem, and propels you forward.
Shake up the Sequence
Most SMART Goals are set with the idea that they’re reached sequentially, even if you’re not sure exactly what steps are necessary to get there. An alternative would be to commit to putting in a certain amount of effort towards exploring the goal and then deciding if you want to continue.
Many goals are set up to change habits. While that can be a wonderful thing, it can also lead to feelings of failure because changing habits is tough to do. Instead, try creating a mantra that sets you up to discover new ways of doing things and stepping into them with grace.
Focus on Doing Your Best Everyday
At the heart of it, goals are about helping you be your best and do your best. SMART Goals are popular because they’re measurable (the M in SMART), but some people struggle to make progress using this method. Instead, try asking yourself at the end of each day if you did your best. If you did not, examine why and make changes the next day so you’ll continue to improve.
How are your goals going this year? Perhaps it’s time to revisit them and try a new approach.