Goal setting

As a carer, it is easy to become so focused on your loved one, or getting through the day that it is easy to lose sight of the bigger picture or things that you want to achieve in your life. Setting some goals and having something to work towards is important for your overall wellbeing, as it gives you a sense of control and achievement. For goals to be useful however, they need to be motivating and achievable in the short term.


Principles of Goal Setting

The concept of ‘SMART’ goals is well known, easy to understand and easy to apply. We have offered a slight twist to the SMART acronym below and turned it into SMART SAV
Short-term: To have a greater influence on your behaviour, short-term goals, such as weekly goals, work best. When goals are too long term, we tend to lose sight of them and they lose their motivational power.
Measurable/ Specific: You need to know exactly what you will be doing and how you can measure your progress. ‘Walking five mornings per week for 30 minutes’ for example tells you exactly what you are required to do to achieve your goal.
Actionable: Your goals need to involve specific actions or things you are required to do. For example ‘be happy’ is not an action. ‘Write down three positive things that I am grateful for everyday’ is an action, which will improve your mood and overall happiness.
Recorded/ documented: Writing down your goals makes it easier for you to stay on track and stay accountable. If you don’t write down your goals it is easier to drift off track, forget about them, or change them as you go. Writing your goals down is a symbol of your commitment toward achieving them.
Timed: Goals need to have a beginning and end date.
Shared: Telling others who are supportive of you about your goals can help keep you accountable to your commitments. Be wise, and share your goals only with those people who will be positive and encouraging and help keep you on track. Criticism from cynical or negative people will make it harder for you to achieve.
Achievable: Consider the other demands on your time, potential obstacles that may interfere with you achieving your goals and whether your goals are realistic as you set them.
Visible: Having visual reminders of your goals in places where you will see them and notice them is a great way to help keep you on track. Not only can they remind you of a particular behaviour when you may have forgotten, but they can also remind you of what you are achieving by staying on track.


Review your progress regularly and remember that some goals are harder to achieve than others. It often takes a few false starts and it is normal to make mistakes – the key is learning from your mistakes and taking the time to refocus on your goals when you need too.