Goal Setting Tool

National Family Caregivers Association

In taking the best care of yourself and your loved one, setting goals to initiate change in your life can be very useful. A goal is something you would like to achieve within three to six months. But a goal is only a dream if it doesn't have a plan behind it. Using the SMART framework, you can affect positive change in your life and turn dreams into reality. This worksheet is designed to help you set a few goals for things you'd like to improve in your caregiving situation whether it be: to find respite care so you can get out of the house a few times a week to go to a support group or doctor's appointment, to take the time to learn more about the community resources available to you, to hire a home health aid, to quit feeling guilty or to make time each day to write in your journal or go for a walk. The acronym SMART is explained below: Don't make the examples all caregiving related make some of them caregiver related - ie. time to go the gym, a regular dinner with friends, etc

S = Specific: Make your goal clear, specific and easy. It's the what, why, and how of the goal. For example, instead of setting a goal to take better care of myself, set a specific goal to find someone to stay with your family member once a week or to walk 3 miles at an aerobically challenging pace.

M = Measurable: You'll never know if you accomplished your goal if can't measure it. Include some deadlines when writing your goal. For example, I will find time to walk 30 minutes each day by six weeks from now by starting with 10 minute walks and increasing the length by 10 minutes every two weeks.

A = Attainable: A goal needs to stretch you slightly so you feel you can do it but don't make it such a stretch that you are doomed to failure. Reaching your goal will requirea real commitment from you. The feeling of success will help you stay motivated.

R = Realistic: The goal needs to be realistic for you and where you are at the moment. Devise a plan or a way of getting there which makes the goal realistic. A goal of never again eating sweets, cakes, crisps and chocolate may not be realistic for someone who really enjoys these foods.

T = Timely: Set a timeframe for the goal: for next week, in three months, by your birthday. Without a time limit, you'll feel like you can start at any time. Putting an end point on your goal gives you a clear target to work towards.

Identify your first goal. Pick something you want to change in your life. There may be many things that are bothering you to choose from so try to start with the most frustrating one or the one you think you can most likely achieve. List a few ideas here:

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  2. ____________________________________________________
  3. ____________________________________________________

Make Your Goal SMART:

Picking your first goal from above, use the worksheet below to more fully plan it out. Here's an example of a SMART goal:

Because I want to take better care of myself, I will find someone to take care of my dad once a week so I can attend my support group meeting by asking up to 5 friends or family stay with dad by the end of the first week, calling a home health agency to find out what's possible by the end of the second week, and ultimately hiring or finding a volunteer and a back up person to stay with dad by the end of the month. I'll reward myself for accomplishing this by going out to a meal with an old friend. I am fairly confident I can achieve this goal.NOTE Many of those involved in the volunteer caregiver "space" think that asking and coordinating shouldn't be the job of the family caregiver but rather a friend or family member

Goal Title (what I will accomplish):___________________________________________

Why I want to accomplish this goal: __________________________________________

How I will accomplish my goal:______________________________________________

When will I accomplish my goal by:__________________________________________

What activities will I do and how often to support this goal:

Activity Description


How Often or By When


Date complete
(you can update this column as you go)

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How confident are you that you will achieve your goal (circle)?

1 2 3 4 5

Not at all Somewhat Very Much

If you are not feeling very confident about your goal, you might want to go back and revise it. You should feel pretty confident that you can do this which you can.

Content shown was developed in collaboration between AGIS and National Family Caregivers Association.


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