Adding Relevancy and Rewards to our Goal Setting

By Josh Lockhart, PHEc

As we get close to the end of the year and the start of a new one, it is goal setting season!

If you have ever attended a workshop on goal setting, most likely the workshop covered the aspect of SMART goals, which is a specific formula for reaching your goals. SMART goals need to be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-specific.

Specific: What exactly do you want to accomplish? Specify the what, who, where, when why and how.

Measurable: How can you track your progress? How will you know when you have completed your goal?

Attainable: Is achieving this goal realistic in terms of effort and commitment? Do you have the resources necessary to complete this goal? If not, how will you get them?

Realistic: Is the goal attainable? Is the goal in line with your core values and mission for life?

Time Specific: When will you complete this goal? When is the deadline, and is the deadline realistic?

Follow those steps, and you have created a SMART goal.

What typically happens to a lot of New Year’s resolutions is they go unresolved. Normally we do set-up goals using the SMART system. What is missing from a specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time specific goal are the extra R’s: Relevant and Reward. They typically are not included. It is important that the goal is relevant to you and that you have a reward and recognition system in place.

To determine if a goal is relevant, you have to look at your current social, mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional well-being. If you are currently pregnant, a weight loss plan is not a relevant goal. If you are in the process of relocating, an organizational system goal is not a relevant goal. If you have a goal to take an Excel course in order to perform better at your job; that is a relevant goal. If you have a goal to take a 30-minute walk a day for health reasons, that too is a relevant goal.

The other important aspect of goal-setting is rewarding and recognizing your efforts during the goal and at completion. If there is no reward or celebration to recognize the completion of the goal, it will be difficult to want to complete or set another goal. The reward system needs to be synonymous with the goal. For example if you have two goals, and one is to learn excel and the other is to finish a school program, the reward for finishing a school program should be much larger than completing the excel workshops.

Even having little rewards along the way, such as a candy or watching a TV show, is a great way to keep yourself motivated in completing a task.

So, the next time you go and make a SMART goal, be sure to include a reward & recognition system for yourself, and to make sure that the goal is relevant to you!


Josh Lockhart works for the College of the Rockies in Kimberley BC. He is also a columnist with the Battleford’s News Optimist and a Co-Author with Notes On Parenting. Josh is currently a counselling graduate student at Gonzaga University.