Goal setting is a necessary step in achieving positive results. Whether the outcome is personal (lose weight, stop smoking, end a habit), academic (learn a new language, understand algebra, write a research paper) or professional (change career, get a promotion), individuals should develop a plan and then work to achieve the end point.  “Under the right circumstances, planning can enhance self-control, contribute to better school performance and help people achieve goals.”   Effective, goals  have five components.  To determine if a goal is effective, or SMART, apply it to the following criteria: Specific Measurable,  Attainable, Relevant, Time-Bound.    

However, the process doesn’t end here.  Once planners determine that their goals are SMART, they should also reflect on possible obstacles to completing them. By anticipating hurdles, they can prepare to confront them when they arise.  As an exercise, examine the weight loss goal and apply the SMART technique. Compose a list that for the goal:

Specific: Lose 5 pounds

Measurable: Use a scale regularly

Attainable: Food choices and exercise

Relevant: To health and well being

Time-bound: One month

To establish that the goal fulfills the SMART criteria, consider each component and write it down.  Next, reflect on some of the possible barriers to successful completion of the goal: procrastination, bad food and beverage choices, avoiding exercise. List these under the SMART goal.  Then, next to each obstacle, include a way to confront each challenge when it (inevitably)occurs. Having a visible reminder of the goals can provide motivation for completion. Applying these steps to an end point can help a goal become a reality.