“When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goals, adjust the action steps.” ~ Confucius
S.M.A.R.T. is an acronym to help people set more comprehensive goals that are attainable. This can be a useful tool for dealing with your pain. It stands for:
Specific and significant
Measurable and meaningful
Achievable and action-orientated
Realistic and reasonable
Timely and trackable
Specific & Significant
To create a specific goal it must answer the 6 “W’s”
- Who is this goal for/who is involved in it
- What is it that needs to be accomplished?
- Where should this goal take place?
- When will this goal be completed or how long will it take?
- Which things or requirements and constraints need to be identified?
- Why does this goal need to be accomplished ? What is its Purpose?
For example “I want mediate to help manage my pain,” is a very undefined and vague goal to have. A specific and significant goal would be to meditate for 30 minutes every day.
Measurable & Meaningful
You want to know what the criteria to measure progress towards your goals. This is a blueprint of how you intend to complete your goal. Here you can reach milestones and staying on track to meeting your goals. Questions like “how much,” or “how many,” or “how will I tell if I met my goal,” is a good way to know what to measure.
For example, meditating for 30 minutes each day is quantifiable and measurable. You can track your progress and see results.
Attainable & Action-Orientated
Knowing what you want to achieve and how to accomplish it is the definition of creating action steps. By having realistic goals, you can set yourself up for success. For instance, “meditating 30 minutes each day” is attainable and measurable. It is something you know you can do with your eyes closed. By creating goals that are attainable you can achieve more difficult goals later on.
Realistic & Reasonable
Being gentle with yourself is important. When you are dealing with chronic pain you need to have goals that are realistic and reasonable. It is tempting to get ahead of yourself. Many people fall into the trap of getting overwhelmed by goals that seem impossible. Take an overarching goal such as, “I want to manage my pain better,” and breaking it into smaller goals. Goals involving mediation, exercise, reducing medication intake, and so forth can be powerful. Try not to get dissuaded by a task that seems impossible. Break it down into smaller, doable chunks at a time.
Timely & Trackable
One important factor in achieving your goals is also seeing the progress you have made. Make sure your goal has a time limit. For instance, meditate for 30 minutes each day for two weeks before you tack on another task. As you do this journal your progress. Being able to see progress can motivate and encouraging.
Ways to Get Motivated and Stay Positive
Sometimes it can be difficult to stay focused. Having people who support you is critical when living with chronic pain. Your support system will help keep you on track. They offer encouragement, advice, and will empower you.
Having a good set of S.M.A.R.T. goals is essential to working through your day-to-day pain. Every time you make a decision take a moment to ask yourself if it’s bringing you closer or further away from your goal. You are in charge of your life. You are the one key factor that ensures success for completing your goals.
Having S.M.A.R.T. Goals helps you build a system of new neural pathways in the brain. You can build healthy habits that become easier to do with repetition and consistency. The more you do something in another way, the more habitual it becomes. Remember, you are stronger than you think you just need to believe in yourself.