Big or small, setting goals is an important part in reaching our potential and becoming the person we strive to be.
We can go around saying we are going to run a marathon, climb Mount Everest, or get a promotion all we want, but setting lofty goals without documentation can be a recipe for not following through.
Using a goal setting worksheet to create a goal and hold us to the promises we’ve made to ourselves increases the chances of us reaching that goal. In fact, you are 42 percent more likely to achieve a goal if you have it written down.
Want to skip ahead to something a bit more specific? Use the links below:
In the spirit of goal setting, the most effective first steps to take are making sure the goal is SMART and documenting it.
What are the five elements of a SMART goal?
Specific - make sure the goal is well-defined and focused on one thing in particular
Measurable - put numbers to the goal to track progress and have a defined spot where you know you have reached it
Attainable - dream big but be realistic
Relevant - ensure your goal aligns with other factors
Timely - give yourself a time frame of when you want this goal to be reached
Anyone can set a hollow goal - attract more business, lose weight, be more positive. While all of those goals are well-intentioned, you can technically check it off the list if you gain one more customer, lose one pound, or make on person smile. Again, all good things, but it gives the goal setter an excuse to stop there.
Making sure your goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely is a great way to stay focused, take action, and see the results desired when the goal was set. It keeps you accountable to yourself and pushes you to do more than you ever thought possible!
SMART goal setting worksheet
Using a SMART goal setting worksheet is a sure-fire way to improve your goal setting. It provides you will a well-rounded and detailed goal that is officially documented, holding you to it.
Because SMART goals can get a little complex, they cannot be reached all at once. And that’s okay. Goals are achieved with the help of a variety of action items. These are activities you have completed in the effort of getting closer to your goal.
With that in mind, go ahead and download the goal setting worksheet below.
How to fill out a goal setting worksheet
With that template at hand, let’s go through and make sure this goal setting worksheet is going to be used to help you achieve whatever it is you want to accomplish.
1. Set the goal
Think of what you want to achieve, how to measure it, whether or not it is reasonable, if it is relevant to your bigger picture, and by when you want to achieve it. Take a look at the SMART checklist on the goal setting worksheet and ask yourself all of those questions listed.
2. Ask yourself why it matters
Once your goal meets all those criteria, ask yourself why this goal matters to you. Will it help you in business? In life? Will it benefit others? How will reaching this goal affect your personal/professional life? Really dive into how accomplishing this goal will affect your life and why it matters in the long run.
3. Identify any obstacles
Next, ask yourself if anything is going to hold you back. Every person working towards a goal will encounter some obstacles, but considering them beforehand will help you be prepared, overcome them, or change plans to avoid them.
A good way to go about listing challenges is coming up with some “if-then” statements. An “if-then” statement is conditional. Essentially, whether or not something happens depends on another event.
Read them like this:
“If X, then Y.”
“If I run into this obstacle, I will do this to avoid it.”
“If I don’t get a promotion, I will start looking for other jobs that pay more.”
With that in mind, think of some obstacles that might get in your way and make a plan for overpowering them.
4. List action items
Finally, ideate some action items that will help you reach your goal. These should be even more specific than your goal. Think of action items like objectives or mini-goals. What do you need to get done to achieve your goal? What steps can you take that will propel you forward?
Related: Can't tell the difference between goals and objectives? Check out our resource on goals vs objectives that explains the important difference.
If you expect something to change, you need to first change your behavior. Focus on behaviors you will need to change to make this happen for yourself. Think about actions you can take in the next couple of hours, days, weeks, and months, all while prioritizing your goal. Think of a habit that counteracts your goal, how to change it, and why you are doing it.
Importance of goal setting
Between performing well at work, succeeding at school, taking care of ourselves, maintaining our relationships, and having enough time to take a breath and relax, it can be easy to lose sight of one of those areas to focus on another.
Setting SMART goals is a great way to improve your focus on reaching your potential. Having them in front of you and at the top of your mind, you remain in that growth and improvement mindset. With an end goal in mind, action items, and methods for overcoming barriers, achieving those goals becomes a lot more feasible.
Be a SMART goal setter
Setting goals the right (SMART) way is an excellent method for propelling ourselves closer to becoming the person we want to be, in work and in life. We all have dreams, and sitting around hoping they’ll come true does nothing for us. Set those goals, take action, and reach your potential.
Setting goals for work? Check out our resource on creating a career development plan to get you where you want to go professionally.
Mary Clare Novak is a Content Marketing Specialist at G2 in Chicago, where she is currently exploring topics related to sales and customer relationship management. In her free time, you can find her doing a crossword puzzle, listening to cover bands, or eating fish tacos. (she/her/hers)