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ADHD Friendly Goal Setting: When SMART goals aren’t quite smart enough…

When it comes to goal setting and ADHD, SMART goals are important, but we think there’s more to it…

First of all, whether or not you’ve heard of SMART goals before, you’ve likely been told at one point that you’re much more likely to accomplish a goal when it’s clearly defined. What we mean by this is that you’re much more likely to get to the gym if you set out a goal to “go to the gym at my school once a week after class for a month” versus if you say you’re going to “start going to the gym.”

SMART goals then, refer to specific criteria that we should be using when setting goals for ourselves. To refresh your memory, SMART stands for:

S - Specific – This is the what, why, and how of your goal. What specifically are you setting out to do?

M - Measurable – How will you measure whether or not your goal was met?

A – Achievable – Ask yourself, is this something I know I can do/believe I can do? Is this something I can commit to?

R – Realistic – This is where you need to take a good hard look at yourself and where you are at the moment, and assess just how realistic your goal may be. For example, a goal to go to the gym every morning no matter what might technically be achievable, but not realistic.

T – Timely – What is the time-frame for your goals? Again, make sure the time-frame is measurable, attainable, and realistic.

There may be different variations out there, but the gist is about the same.

Thinking about ADHD and goal setting, we don’t doubt the benefits of SMART goals. We here at Springboard Clinic, however, propose an amendment to the SMART criteria for goal setting: SMART MAPS goals. Yes we know – not quite the same ring to it….and no it doesn’t make sense in any way…trust us, this is the best we could come up with for now.

So, what does MAPS stand for?

M – Motivation – Is this actually what you want, or do you feel like you should be doing? There is a huge difference between the two, and that difference will very likely dictate whether or not a goal gets done or whether what you’re working toward is sustainable.

A – Anticipate blockers – Think now about what might get in the way, and what you can potentially do to prevent it. You know yourself better than anyone, so if you think you’ll likely forget you even made a goal in the first place, write it down and post it somewhere visible where you won’t have the chance to forget.

P – Plan for a Plan B – Things don’t always go exactly according to expectations, and individuals with ADHD in particular often have difficulty adjusting to a ‘Plan B’ in the moment. If you plan ahead for a Plan B, however, you’re taking out the guesswork in the moment, and it will be that much easier to keep your momentum going.

S – Small steps – This goes one step further than just being realistic, this means taking what you think the first step is, and then breaking that down even more. Sometimes what you think is ‘step one’ might actually have several other steps beforehand that could stop you in your tracks. So, if you want to start going to the gym, step one might not be ‘go to the gym.’ The first step might actually be ‘buy running shoes.’

There you have it – Springboard Clinic’s new and definitive guidelines for clearly defining goals. Keep SMART MAPS in mind the next time you set out to accomplish something, and you’ll be setting yourself up for a much better chance of success.

 

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