The Art of Setting Smart Goals: Staying Motivated

By Tara Eisenhard

In my last article, I wrote about goals:  reasons to have goals and the kinds of goals you might want to set to help you move past divorce. In Part 2, I’m here to take you deeper into the process and provide some helpful hints and tips so you can set yourself up for success. Enjoy!

Setting Goals

One popular acronym for setting goals is SMART. SMART goals are specific, measurable, agreed, realistic and time-specific. This is a good framework to use, especially if you’re working toward a shared goal with your ex. It’s important to clarify as many aspects as possible because the details will help you determine your action plan as well as your final success.

Put It In Writing

Commit to your goals by writing them down using positive phrasing. Don’t write what you don’t want, record what you do want. You might also find it helpful to do some further journaling about how you’re feeling, why you’ve chosen a specific goal, what needs the outcome will satisfy and how you might celebrate when you’ve accomplished what you set out to do. While you’re writing, you can also create a map and commit to a plan of action. How will you reach your goal? Is there any preparation you’ll need to do before beginning the process? What can you do today to get you one step closer to where you want to be? What action will you take next week?

Dealing with Obstacles

“When obstacles arise, you change your direction to reach your goal; you do not change your decision to get there.” –Zig Ziglar

If you set a SMART goal, congratulations! By setting Agreeable and Realistic goals, you’ve likely mitigated a lot of Obstacle Risk. But of course there’s no way to guarantee you’ll find smooth sailing all the way to the finish line. When unanticipated circumstances arise, take some time to assess the situation. You might need to adjust your timeline or do some brainstorming to find a creative new route to your destination. Break it down, stretch it out, ask for help… but don’t give up.

Staying Motivated

Have a support system. While you should guard your goals against too much sharing, it’s beneficial to obtain encouragement from others. You might trust a friend or a family member to support you through the process. You could also work with a coach to help you focus and hold you accountable. Whatever support you choose, don’t be afraid to reach out when you need some empathy or optimistic cheering.

Remind Yourself Why. Don’t forget to remind yourself what you want and why you want it. You can journal about your feelings or create a vision board to portray your end result. You might also post motivational messages or pictures around your home to help you stay on track.

Schedule Time to Focus. Set aside some time each week to revisit your goals and make any necessary alterations to your plans. This is a good time to look back at how far you’ve come and also look ahead and consider the important next steps.

Set and Reward milestones. Sometimes big goals can feel overwhelming. If you’re finding this to be true, simply break down your large goal into mini-milestones. Remember, “By the mile, it’s a trial. By the inch, it’s a cinch.” When doing your planning, you can think of reaching the next milestone instead of the final goal. Along the way, take time to celebrate your accomplishments and give yourself a reward. Your work is worth it.

Keep Going

“Go as far as you can see; when you get there, you’ll be able to see further.” –Thomas Carlyle

Success is no reason to stop. After you’ve accomplished your first round of goals, consider your situation and write new goals to keep you moving forward. Through this process, you’ll find yourself constantly improving while living with purpose and a vision for your future.

Tara Eisenhard is an author, mediator and coach with a positive and holistic outlook on divorce. She is the author of the novel “The D-Word: Divorce Through a Child’s Eyes,” and the blog, Relative Evolutions. For more information, visit