Setting goals for better health and wellbeing
9th February 2022
Setting goals is a great way to get ahead in your work and personal life. Whether you’re looking for a new job, wanting to complete some study; get fit; eat healthier; or be more sociable, setting goals provides a sense of direction, motivation, and helps you focus on what's important.
By setting SMART goals, you are giving yourself real targets to aim for, and the tools to help you reach your target.
“A dream written down becomes a goal. A goal broken into steps becomes a plan. A plan backed by your action makes your dreams come true.”
Before we look at how to set SMART goals, let’s consider the benefits of setting goals.
7 benefits of setting goals
- Goal setting promotes a focus on the future.
- Goal setting, combined with problem-solving, is an effective strategy for people to overcome certain challenges in their life.
- By breaking down big problems into small individual goals or steps, overcoming that problem can suddenly become more achievable.
- Writing your goals down can help you determine what's possible, and show you how you can redirect your energy for a better outcome. It can be fun!
- Setting goals can be done alone, or with friends, partners, family members, or colleagues.
- Goal setting can promote useful discussions with other people.
- You have something to look forward to (and celebrate once you’re reached your goal).
How to set a SMART goal
Be specific. Well-defined goals have a greater chance of being accomplished.
To make a goal specific, consider the five “W” questions:
- Who: Who is involved in this goal?
- What: What exactly do I want to accomplish?
- Where: Where is this goal to be achieved?
- When: When do I want to achieve this goal?
- Why: Why do I want to achieve this goal?
Make it measurable. You need to be able to measure your progress along the way.
To make a goal measurable, ask yourself:
- What is the amount/number of the thing I am striving for? e.g. To get a job I will apply for 5 jobs every week, for the next 2 months.
- How will I track my progress? What measurement will I use to show I am actively working towards my goals? e.g. I will track the number of applications I submit via my SEEK profile, as well as the number of interviews I attend.
Goals need to be achievable. It’s good to set yourself a challenge, but you also need to aim for something that is actually attainable.
To determine if your goal is achievable, ask yourself:
- Do I have the resources and capabilities to achieve the goal? If not, what am I missing? What can I do to find those missing pieces? What can I do to "fill in the gaps"?
- Has this been done successfully before? Have you, or other people been able to achieve this goal in the past?
Choose realistic goals. Aim for things that are within your reach and relevant to you and your purpose.
A SMART goal is likely realistic if you believe that it can be accomplished. For example, it may not be realistic to get a job as a Support Worker in 1 week because you will need to wait 4 weeks to complete a training course and apply for your yellow card. In this case, a goal stepped out over 6 weeks may be more realistic.
Is your goal timely? Choose a clearly defined timeline, including a start date and a target date (when you want to achieve your goal by). Setting a timeline is a good way to create some urgency and map out each part of your goals plan.
The following table might help you layout the timeline for your goals.
|Within one week|
|Within one month|
|Within own timeframe|
You can also download our SMART Goals template to start mapping out your future goals.
What to do when you have achieved your goal
Congratulations, you have just ticked off one of your many goals. By writing down goals and planning ahead, you have been able to take the steps needed to achieve your goal.
Now it’s time to get started on your next goal. You’ve proven you can do it once, so you know you can do it again! What else do you want to achieve?
We're here to help you!
If you’re ready to set some goals, but are still nervous or a little unsure, HELP’s Health and Wellbeing Services (HWS) team can guide you as you get started and support you along the way.
Our team of Psychologists and Employment Coaches work collaboratively to help you overcome challenges, reach your goals, and become the best version of you. Learn more about HELP's range of wellbeing and support services.