Setting realistic goals is not always easy. Many people choose major goals that take longer than their patience and attention allow and give up. Considering all the little accomplishments that must happen (and should be celebrated) before reaching the big goal is important. Some people set loose, undefined goals that can’t be achieved because there is no way to measure progress. You can generate healthy habits, build confidence, and find more success when you set SMART goals.

SMART goals

SMART goals keep you organized, focused, and help push you to achieve. Here’s a step-by-step guide:


Make sure that your goal is well-defined, rather than vague. Instead of setting a goal to be closer as a family, define what that means to you. More planned activities together? More dinner conversations? Think of creating a small enough goal that you could cross off a list. If it is not an action item, the goal may still be too big or vague and can be broken down further. Asking yourself some of the following questions will help you define your goal:

  • What do I want to accomplish?
  • What small steps can I take to accomplish this goal?
  • Where do I have to do the work for this goal?


By setting a goal that is measurable, you can track progress and stay motivated to do the work. “My goal is to enjoy dinner with my family five evenings each week.” “My goal is to plan family activities on two Sundays of every month.”


Setting goals that are so lofty it would be impossible to reach them is not a good idea. Stretching yourself while being realistic is the best strategy. If your family members all have different activities at dinnertime every single weeknight, then setting a high dinner conversation goal will likely not be attainable. However, if everyone is home every Thursday night, trying to get everyone around the table on that one night each week is realistic and can be done. Start small and build from there! Here are some questions to help!

  • What do I need to do to achieve the goal?
  • Do I need help from others?
  • Are there known obstacles or requirements I have to keep in mind?


Ensuring that your goal is aligned with your family values is important. . Ideally your goals should help you advance to a new level, personally, academically, or otherwise. For example, deciding to have more family dinners or planned family activities will bring the family closer together and deepen individual relationships. Start with these questions to help you:

  • Why do I want to accomplish that?
  • Why is this goal important to me?


Defining a deadline up front helps with motivation, especially for those who work better when a sense of urgency looms. Knowing that you will achieve your goal on a certain date gives you something to look forward to. Setting a goal for a certain number of family dinners or planned family activities each month (or each year) can give you something to celebrate when you achieve it, together. Here’s a question to help you start thinking about your timeline:

  • When do I want to achieve it?

Remember that goals can’t be achieved overnight and they take time. Set yourself up for success by starting small and measurable- if you feel good about your progress, you are more likely to keep going. Celebrate little milestones along the way and use setbacks as a way to learn and problem-solve how to reach a goal.