Setting and Reaching Goals


by Nicole Bueno

With the new year upon us, many people make resolutions.  A resolution is also a goal.  When you set goals, you are much more likely to achieve them if you create a plan on how to reach them.  The more skilled you become at being able to set goals, the more effective you will be in reaching the goals you have set.  Benefits of goal setting include keeping yourself motivated, providing you with focus/purpose, making big goals more manageable, increase feelings of control, building a sense of accomplishment.  After identifying your goals, make sure that your goals are SMART.

S-Specific.  Set goals in measureable and behavioral terms.  For example, “I want to spend at least twenty minutes meditating every day.”

M-Measureable.  You can measure whether you meditate every day and the amount of time you spend meditating.

A-Adjustable.  If after meditating for twenty minutes, you realize that time allows for more or less time to meditate, you can adjust it to a different time frame.

R-Realistic.  You want your goals to be realistic so they are attainable.  Ask yourself if you have the time and desire to reach the goals?

T-Time specific.  Set a start date and target date for when you would like to reach your intended goals.  You may make more progress than expected or there may be times you do not make as much progress as you anticipated.  That is okay.  Be ready to adjust your goals and strategies for reaching them and keep on striving towards them.  You CAN and will get there.

Other important guidelines to keep in mind when setting goals:

  • Use positive wording.  Set your goals around the things you want to do rather than those you do not want to do.  For example, instead of “I don’t want to feel stressed”, consider saying, “I want to feel calm and relaxed”.
  • Write your goals down.  When you write your goals down on paper, it makes it more likely you will work towards achieving them.  Then put the written goals in a place you will see them daily.
  • Create strategies to help you reach your goals.  If you want to obtain new employment, then consider setting a weekly goal for how many applications you want to submit each week.  You can even choose to set daily goals for how many applications you want to submit per day.  Setting short-term and daily goals will increase your sense of accomplishment and progress towards your long-term goals.
  • Evaluate your progress.  Evaluating your progress will help inform you whether your goals need to be adjusted or new strategies implemented.  It can also contribute to your sense of accomplishment.
  • Share your goals with others so they can support you but sharing them can also help to make yourself more accountable in following through to reach your desired goals.

Remember, you are in control of your goals and how you will accomplish them.  It will take hard work and dedication, but it is important that you enjoy the process and feel good about your progress, in both the big and small gains, in reaching your goals.

Nicole Bueno is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and is a Mental Health Therapist and Peak Performance Sport Consultant. Nicole received her Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from San Jose State University and her Master’s Degree in Social Welfare from U.C. Berkeley. She is currently a Master’s Degree candidate of the Sport Psychology program at John F. Kennedy University. She has her own private practice in San Jose, California.  Nicole can be reached at or (408) 724-1009.