You've likely heard that to accomplish something, it helps to set goals.
It's the same thing when you want to learn ways of coping with stress. However, it's not good enough to say that your goal is to learn how to cope with stress. This is just too vague.
Instead, you want to learn to set S.M.A.R.T. goals, which are more specific so that you have a better chance of actually meeting them.
S.M.A.R.T. is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Related.
Here are examples of how you can put this into use.
S – Specific
• Be specific with your goal. In other words, what exactly is your goal? Be sure to write it down, and to include who, what, where, when, and why.
• Instead of simply stating that you want to cope better with stress, try stating this: “I want to start learning today how to deal with the stress I experience at my job so that I will be more pleasant for my family and co-workers to associate with.”
M – Measurable
• Determine a method by which you can measure whether you're progressing or reaching your goal. The way you do this is by first creating a baseline from which to measure. So before you take steps to achieving your goal, you need to figure out where you are currently at. Then you will be able to identify if what you are doing is working.
• For example, if you want to deal better with the stress at work, it's not enough to say that, “I want to experience less stress.” Instead, think about how you will know that you are experiencing less stress. Perhaps you get an average of ten tension headaches per month due to stress at work. You could measure a decrease in stress by stating, “I want to experience no more than two work-related headaches per month.”
• Another example might be that you're always ten to twenty minutes late for work, which causes you great anxiety and stress. Maybe this is because you do not wake up early enough. If this is the case, then you can set a goal to wake up by a specific time in order that you can make it to work five minutes earlier than your start time. This is a measurable goal.
A – Attainable
• Another word for attainable is realistic. You don't want to create unrealistic goals as it will only lead to frustration, and inability to follow through. This is a sure way to fail in meeting your goals.
• An example of an unrealistic goal is: “I do not want to experience stress at my job.” A more realistic, attainable goal is: “I want to learn techniques that will help me deal with stress when it arises on the job.”
• To help you determine if a goal is attainable, ask yourself questions such as whether you have the resources, time, and/or the ability to learn the necessary skills to meet that goal.
R – Relevant
• The goal should be relevant to you so that you feel motivated to carry it through. It needs to be a goal that you can get passionate about.
• If you set a goal in order to please someone else, then it is no longer personal and relevant to you. For example, if it is your spouse's goal that you develop a goal to cut down on your stress so that you quit talking about work in your sleep, this goal is not likely to be very relevant to you. If you wake up feeling rested despite keeping your spouse up with your sleep talking, then you are not likely to feel very motivated to make a change. On the other hand, if you are experiencing fatigue due to inability to sleep due to stress, you will be more motivated to make the necessary changes to fix the problem.
T – Time-Related
• One of the biggest mistakes that people make is not to set a timeline. Without a timeline, you cannot establish if you're meeting the goals you set.
• When setting timelines, you need to set dates to reassess your progress and check that you are on the right track to meeting your goals. You may then find that you need to readjust your goals or the time frame in which to meet them.
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