How to set a good target?

Having a clear target makes everything more meaningful and motivating. In addition the feeling when you reach something you have long dreamed of and worked hard towards, is very rewarding. Though I usually notice that the journey towards the target has been close to as fun as the target itself – and I think’s that is very important as otherwise you forget to live your life and just jump from one target to another.

But, how to then set a good target? That is usually difficult, but worth spending some time on. If you set your target wrongly, it becomes unmotivating and thus easily forgotten. As I wrote before, it’s also good to connect the target to your values, so that going after the target also help you live-up to your true values. In addition to choosing right targets, it’s important to formulate them in a meaningful way. Today I decided to share few thoughts and facts what is a good target and how to define it.

Widely known way to define targets is the “SMART concept”. I guess some of you already know what this is as it can be used in many contexts: business, personal life, sports… etc. I want to share this concept still one more time here as I think it’s a good and clear way to define a good target and thus increase the likelihood that it will be reached at the end of the day. So, what is this SMART all about?

Specific: Target defines clearly what it the desired outcome instead of being very broad and abstractive. For example if your target would be to “feel well”, it might be quite hard to know what you should do in order to reach it: does it mean that you want to feel more strong? Does it mean you want to be more energetic? Perhaps mentally stronger and less stressed? Or something else? Thus you should try to define your target very clearly, so you know exactly what you are after.

Measurable: You need to be able to measure your target to be sure how you are approaching it and when have you reached it. For example “I want to be fit by the end of this year” might be hard to plan as you can’t really tell how you are progressing. You can e.g. spend a lot of time at the gym, but if someone asks you in October, how you are doing compared to your target, you can only say that you are “in better shape that you were when you started”. And this definitely is not very motivating end result after all that hard work. Thus it’s better to define concrete measure for your target, e.g. “I can run 10km” or “I can do 50 push ups”. With this you can say in October that “I can already run 8km, so I’m only 2km away from my target”.

Achievable: Your target needs to be possible to reach in reasonable timeframe. If your target is too hard, you will give up on it more easily because you don’t feel any progress. For example if my target would be to finish ironman competition during 2019, I think I would give up already after few months as I would feel there is no way I can reach my target, so why even bother to try. If I on other hand would have a target to finish ¼ triathlon, I would have much better change to keep my motivation high and reach my target.

Relevant: The target needs to be meaningful for you and you need to believe in it yourself. If your target is to become a vegetarian but you are really not interested of this topic and you have no ideology or values behind it, it might be again hard to maintain your motivation towards it. On other hand if you are truly interested of impacts it might have to nature, to health or perhaps to ethics, it will be much more meaningful for you and you have true interest to reach your target.

Time bound: Lastly, target must be tied to time, so you need to have mental deadline to reach it. Otherwise it becomes a forever continuing project and you are never finished as you can always “do it tomorrow”.

If you want to read more about SMART –framework, I recommend checking e.g. this site.

I think my target from last winter was good example of “SMART”: I aimed to ski 1.000km during winter 2017-2018. This was very specific, I was able to measure it with Sport Tracker, knowing my skiing –background it was something I knew I can do if I really work hard towards it, I like nature and skiing and lastly, it had a clear deadline. I’m aiming to use this way of thinking also in my next target as I have noticed it being already once a good way to get myself motivated doing new things : )


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