It’s that time of year again, when you reflect on your personal and professional life, assess where you are, and figure out where you want to be at this time next year. By setting goals for your job and career, you’ll have something bigger than your daily tasks to strive for. Just as you’d never embark on a trip without having a destination in mind, you can’t live your life without establishing a goal. Here’s how to set your personal SMART goals for the New Year.

How to Set a Goal

Consider what you want to achieve and then commit to it. You want a goal that’s Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Relevant, and bound by Time. Start with what you want to do with your life. Then, break those large goals into smaller milestones to keep you on course. Once you have those smaller goals set, you can make a plan to achieve them. Writing the goals down will hold you accountable. Use this same formula for your finances, physical fitness, education, and career.

Make it Specific

If your goals are vague, you won’t be focused, and you won’t know when you’ve achieved them. For example, if you set a goal to lose weight—not specific enough!—and you lose one pound, did you achieve your goal? Instead, be precise about how much weight you want to lose and by when. When your goal is specific enough, you know exactly what you need to do to reach it.

Set Something Measureable

Give a quantitative value to your goal so you can really hold yourself accountable. Maybe you want to save a certain amount of money, increase your monthly sales by 10%, or take a vacation every six months. This way, you’ll know exactly when you’ve achieved the goal, and if you miss it, you’ll know how close you were.

Make it Attainable

Be realistic. If you set a really lofty goal for yourself, you’ll set yourself up for failure. It’ll seem like you’re not making progress towards it, which will leave you frustrated and unmotivated. If you keep them incremental, realistic, and attainable, you’ll give yourself more opportunities for success, to pat yourself on the back, and to keep your momentum moving. Remember that failing to meet a goal is totally acceptable as long as you learn from the experience.

Make it Relevant

The goals you set should be relevant to either your careers goals, the demands of your company, or your personal wellbeing. Your goal has to mean something, and it has to be worth the time and effort. Otherwise, it’d be easy to quit!

Set a Timely Deadline

A deadline will let you know whether you’ve reached the goal. You can always reevaluate and set a new deadline if you need to, but don’t scratch the entire goal just because your deadline passed before you met your goal.

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