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Breaking down your goals

Hi! I’m Amani, and I’m a UX/UI Designer. I’ll be sharing my goals for the year and how I’ve set myself up to achieve them using the I&I framework. At the start of the year, many people decide to set new goals and challenges for themselves – myself included. I’ll be honest here though, sometimes it feels like a chore trying to keep on track, but I know that at the end of the day I would be happy I did. I love the sense of satisfaction I get from knowing I’ve done what I set out to do, and knowing that I have somewhat improved my life.

One of my main goals this year is to improve my health. Taking care of my health was something I’ve left on the back burner, but I decided to prioritise it this time as I’ve realised it’s important to me that I feel good in my body and that would be rewarding in the long run.

Since a healthy lifestyle is made up of many different components, I broke it down into four parts:

  • Eating habits

  • Movement

  • Sleeping habits

  • Mental health

By outlining the different segments for improvement, it would be easier for me to specify what I could work on within each individual segment. Then within each segment I would consider the habits I wanted to let go of, new habits I wanted to take on (and had the capacity to), and things I could change that were within my control.

How do I make tangible goals?

One method we suggest to I&I clients when they set goals is to make them SMARTER:

  • Specific

  • Measurable

  • Attractive

  • Realistic

  • Timed

  • Ecological (what’s the bigger impact?)

  • Real time formed (present tense – no negation)

SMARTER goals are precisely defined, set within an allocated timeframe, and have tangible outcomes. They should also ideally consider how the process of achieving these goals would impact other aspects of our lives and inspire us enough to want to achieve them,

By stating everything in real time once you’ve identified them, you can create a "vision for your goal" using the SMARTER framework: "Today is (date in the future –T) and I'm celebrating the fact I (goal description and results – S, M), it makes me feel (emotions – A), I achieved it by (steps – R). There were some stumbles on the way like…. But I overcame them by… (E)". Some people like turning it into a visual dream/goal board to feel motivated but it's optional.

Goals can be as big or as small as you want them to be, but one thing I always do is to map out step-by-step on how I can achieve them.

SMARTER goals in action

1. Eating habits

  • Have less late-night suppers (especially on nights out with friends) - limit eating out or after 8pm to once, max twice a week

  • Have less processed food (this includes fast food, packaged snacks and drinks) - find a healthy alternative to each craving and focus on contiguous decision making to replace processed food

  • Cook for myself at least 3 times a week

2. Movement

  • Get on the treadmill 3x a week at least for 45 minutes

  • Take the stairs instead of the lift when I can

  • Stretch every morning and before bed

3. Sleeping habits

  • Go to bed by 1am

  • Get at least 7 uninterrupted hours of sleep a day

  • Aim for 9 uninterrupted hours of sleep on the weekend

4. Mental health

  • Be mindful of the content I consume. Look at inspiring, affirming content that will encourage me to try more things or make better choices

  • Make careful decisions by outweighing the pros and cons before doing something

The importance of being optimistic

It’s important to frame our goals in a positive light - it provides a lot more encouragement for you to achieve them. Before I decided on my goals for my mental health, I had written down that I was going to stop consuming content that made me feel bad about myself, and learn to be less impulsive. A better way to write it would be to consume more uplifting content that inspired me and to be more patient with myself and others. As you can see it’s a lot more effective to reword these in an encouraging, tangible way because it allows you to focus on what you can do, instead of what you can’t.

Reflecting and keeping myself accountable

Now that I know what steps I have to take to achieve my goals, I can see how I measure up on a daily basis. I find that keeping track of such short intervals of time makes me more consistent and makes it easier to hold myself accountable. A big part of doing this is to be a lot more conscious of my everyday habits, so I don’t end up making excuses for myself, or simply forgetting.

Not all goals have a tangible “to-do list”, but you can choose to measure success in your own way. For example: instead of numbers, it can be a measure of how good you feel about yourself at the end of the day.

Think about your goals, and how you plan to achieve them. Consider these questions when you set out to achieve your goals: Did you turn your bigger vision into a series of actionable items? Do they feel achievable and easy to keep track of? Am I realistic about my goals taking into account my current situation?

Remember to set yourself up for success.

Discovering the SMARTER framework from I&I has helped me a lot in breaking down my goals into practical and actionable steps.

13 June 2022 - Progress update

It has been 3 months since I set those goals for myself, so here is a little progress update:

1. Eating habits

  • I am definitely having less late-night meals, but I still occasionally have supper with my friends after a late night out. It usually happens on the weekends, but not often.

  • I’ve been snacking on fruits and homemade snacks like cauliflower bites and carrot chips instead of processed or packaged snacks

  • I cook for myself 3 times a week and I am actually starting to enjoy it, plus my skills are definitely improving

2. Movement

  • I get on the treadmill 3x a week for 45 minutes each time, and it’s a great way to get my body moving and let my mind wander after a long day.

  • I try to take the stairs instead of an escalator when I can, but it all depends on the shoes I’m wearing that day! Heels and a long flight of stairs don’t usually work well together

  • I’ve been following a body stretching tutorial by @bailey.nomi, hers are really fun to do and I find myself looking forward to doing them. I definitely feel less stiff too

3. Sleeping habits

  • Going to bed by 1am is something I still have to work on, but I do find myself being able to do this more than I used to

  • Getting at least 7 uninterrupted hours of sleep a day is a little bit of a struggle too since I tend to sleep late, but I do make up for it on the weekends where I can sleep in

4. Mental health

  • Being mindful of the content I consume has been one of the best things I’ve ever done to reduce the amount of pressure I feel. Not feeling like I’m in a rat race all the time helps me relax a bit and not overthink things or think less of myself

  • Being a bit more mindful of the decisions I make has been a big relief on my mental health too! I’m still trying to be a little more intentional and less impulsive, but I definitely have less regrets about my decisions now

I think using the SMARTER method in goal setting has made it a lot easier for me to achieve my goals. They are a lot more reasonable and easy to integrate into my lifestyle, and even if I slip up every now and then, I find it easy to get back on track again.


Check out upcoming Live Sessions that covers I&I's SMARTER framework and more!

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