It is no secret that stress can spiral your life out of control. You would have difficulty reaching your full potential and negativity would be commonplace.
But it doesn’t need to stay that way. The fact is, living a joyful and successful life isn’t a far-fetched dream. It simply requires directed effort and consistency on your part to manage your stress.
If you’ve been questioning how to live the stress-free life you desire, then developing SMART goals is the way to go.
In this post, you’ll figure out what SMART goals are and effective tips for setting SMART goals. Then, you’ll take a look at several examples of SMART goals for stress management.
What is a SMART Goal?
SMART is a goal-setting framework that consists of 5 criteria for setting effective goals.
Those 5 criteria are: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-based. By creating goals that fulfill these criteria, you are more likely to succeed with your objectives.
SMART was first introduced in 1981 and was meant to help companies with planning and setting objectives. Nowadays, SMART goals are used by people who want to set the foundation for success.
It is a powerful tool to help others reach lasting goals. To prevent confusion, here is a more in-depth look into what each criterion means:
Make your goals as specific as possible. This means you need to have a clear idea of what you want to accomplish.
For example, rather than setting a goal of “reducing stress,” try the goal of “taking a 20-minute break every day to relax.”
When creating goals, make sure that they are measurable. This will track your progress and see whether you’re on course to reaching your objectives. Then, you’ll have concrete evidence of where you’re currently standing.
If you set lofty goals, you’ll likely be stressed trying to reach them. But if your goals are too small, you may not see the results you’re hoping for.
When choosing goals, ensure they are relevant to you. For instance, if you’re dealing with tons of stress at work, you may have a goal of taking a few minutes to de-stress before starting your workday. So, the goal should be a part of the bigger picture.
Your goal should have a deadline for when you want to reach it. It keeps you accountable to ensure you take the necessary steps to attain what you want. You’ll be less inclined to procrastinate and give flimsy excuses for not taking action.
7 Examples of SMART Goals for Stress Management
Managing stress doesn’t have to be a difficult process. Below you will find 7 key examples of SMART goals for stress management:
1. Get Enough Sleep
SMART Goal: For the next three months, I will get 8 hours of sleep each night to lower my stress levels. I’ll put any distractions from ruining my sleep, such as my phone and any other digital devices.
- Specific: This goal identifies the exact steps to get more sleep and reduce stress.
- Measurable: This is measured by getting 8 hours of sleep every night.
- Attainable: Going to bed earlier for extra sleep is absolutely doable.
- Relevant: More sleep would keep you healthier, happier, and safer. It is essential for both managing stress and your mental health.
- Time-based: The statement will have a deadline of three whole months.
2. Exercise Regularly
SMART Goal: For the next two weeks, I’ll aim for 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise daily to reduce stress and improve my overall health. I’ll switch things up with different activities, such as biking, swimming, and walking.
- Specific: The SMART goal describes how the person will exercise by swimming, walking, and biking.
- Measurable: This is measured by exercising for 30 minutes each day for the next two weeks.
- Attainable: Exercising requires a bit of time and effort, which is reasonable for almost everyone.
- Relevant: Exercising can be a form of stress reliever; hence, it’s a relevant goal to set for yourself.
- Time-based: This certain goal should be pursued for two entire weeks.
3. Avoid Smoking
SMART Goal: For the next month, I’ll reduce the number of times I smoke each day from four to one. This will help me rely less on smoking as a coping mechanism and minimize the impact of my unhealthy habit.
- Specific: This goal is about actively reducing the number of times of smoking, which will prevent stress from worsening.
- Measurable: This is measured by smoking only once daily for the next month.
- Attainable: Reducing the number of times smoking is more doable than eliminating the habit entirely.
- Relevant: Smoking can make stress worse in the long run, so this objective is relevant.
- Time-based: There is a deadline of one month for this particular goal.
4. Eat Healthy Foods
SMART Goal: I will eat more healthy foods within the next 6 months to help my body cope with stress. I’ll include plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains in my diet.
- Specific: You have a specific plan for including healthy ingredients in your meals.
- Measurable: This is measured by eating more healthy foods in the next 6 months.
- Attainable: Eating healthy foods is a reasonable goal to establish for yourself.
- Relevant: The goal is relevant to diminishing your overall stress and anxiety.
- Time-based: This statement has an expected end date of 6 months.
5. Meditate Every Morning
SMART Goal: For the next month, I will meditate for 30 minutes every morning to be more mindful while reducing my stress. To do that, I’ll take deep breaths and focus on my breath as I inhale and exhale slowly.
- Specific: There are specific actions the person can take to enter into a meditative state.
- Measurable: This goal is measured by eliminating stress by meditating for one whole month.
- Attainable: Meditation is easy and accessible, so this goal is reasonable.
- Relevant: Encouraging mindfulness will kick away intrusive thoughts and curb negativity.
- Time-based: You should anticipate goal completion in the next month.
6. Give Yourself a Personal Day
SMART Goal: For the following three months, I will find time to relax by taking a break daily, even if it’s just for 10 minutes. During my break, I want to do things I enjoy, such as reading, listening to music, or spending time with family.
- Specific: The goal specifies what the person can do to reduce symptoms of stress, like enjoying leisure activities.
- Measurable: You can evaluate this by taking a break for at least 10 minutes daily.
- Attainable: This is a matter of managing time, so this is a reasonable goal.
- Relevant: A better work-life balance can lead to lower stress and happier life.
- Time-based: This SMART goal has a time frame of three months.
7. Practice Positive Affirmations
SMART Goal: I will give myself a positive self-talk three times throughout the day for the next four months to upgrade my confidence and prevent stress from invading my life.
- Specific: The goal shows how the person will use positive affirmation three times a day to tackle the issue of stress.
- Measurable: This is measured by encouraging positive self-talk for the next four months.
- Attainable: This particular goal is absolutely feasible with intentional effort.
- Relevant: Positivity can stop stress from going out of hand, so this is relevant.
- Time-based: There is an end date of four months for this certain statement.
How to Set SMART Goals for Stress Management
Are you struggling to set SMART goals? Does your stress not seem to simmer down at all? Here are some tips on how to set SMART goals for stress management:
1. Create Short-Term and Long-Term Goals
Long-term goals are targets you hope to accomplish in the distant future, whereas short-term goals lean more toward things you can accomplish in a relatively short time frame.
Both are important to setting SMART goals. Why? Because you will have a clear vision of what your future looks like while also having bite-sized goals that keep you busy in the meantime.
If you only had long-term goals, they’ll feel more like fleeting aspirations that are nowhere close to being achieved. It’d be tough to remain motivated and consistent without setting intermediate and short-term goals as well.
Hence, no matter what, you should ideally have all types of goals to make goal setting as efficient as possible.
2. Identify Your “Why”
You can’t become a successful goal-setter without identifying the “why” behind your goals. In other words, the objective must be relevant to you personally.
If you are having trouble with that, here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Why do you want to achieve this goal?
- What is the motivation behind this goal?
- Does this goal align with my personal values?
You could have an altruistic motivation for setting a goal, like wanting to make a positive difference in the world. Or, you might simply want to challenge yourself to the extreme.
Whatever it is, when you focus on the reason behind chasing a certain goal, you’ll be more likely to stick with it, even when times get tough.
3. Lean on Your Support System
There is no shame in admitting that you need support or assistance. In truth, this is a sign of strength. After all, it takes a dedicated person to know when to reach out for help.
Whenever you feel stressed out and overwhelmed, don’t be afraid to lean on your support system.
This may be your family, friends, or even mentors. These people can encourage and motivate you to stay on top of your milestones.
Thus, if you ever feel tempted to stray from your goals, make sure to ask them for guidance. I’m sure they’ll be more than happy to help you.
4. Celebrate Achievements
When you reach a goal, it is essential to make time for celebration. You worked diligently, so you deserve a rewarding experience.
If you are wondering how to celebrate goal attainment, here are several ideas to consider:
- Go on a vacation. This is a fantastic way to reward yourself for all your hard work. Choose a destination that’s always been on your bucket list.
- Buy yourself a gift. Show appreciation for yourself by buying something you’ve always desired.
- Party with family and friends. You should be proud of any goal achievement, no matter how big or small. Plan a party with close ones, including your support circle.
- Pat yourself on the back. No need to do anything crazy or out of this world. It would be fine to simply take a moment to enjoy the feeling of success.
When it comes down to stress management, setting SMART goals can give you a roadmap to follow as you work to reduce stress in your daily life.
By intentionally developing SMART goals, you’ll have half of the work done for you. The other half requires hard work and commitment to stay the course.
Keep in mind that your stress management goals may need to be adjusted as you go along, which is perfectly fine.
The crucial matter is to continue trekking forward in your journey to a stress-free life. Over time, you’ll find stress becoming less and less frequent.
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