Overcome Hoarding, Reawaken Motivation, Reclaim Your Life

Setting SMART goals to achieve success.

Posted Feb 12, 2020

Suzanne Cronkwright
Source: Suzanne Cronkwright

In past posts, we discussed how to identify the cluttered areas in your home to improve safety and make them usable for everyday activities. The next step for success is to set goals and put them into action. SMART goals increase the likelihood of successful results.

What Are SMART Goals?

SMART is an acronym where the letters represent five key qualities of achievable goals.

S = Specific. Be as precise as possible when choosing what you want to achieve.

  • Determine the specific steps and tasks you need to perform to achieve your goal.
  • Use “I will” because it expresses commitment to action, not wishful thinking.

M = Measurable. Set a specific amount of time to put into your goal each day/week and describe what achieving the goal looks like.

  • How many hours per day, or how many days per week for how many hours each day?
  • How will you know when you reach your goal?

A = Achievable. Ensure that your goal is within reach using your current abilities and experience.

  • Be realistic about your time frame and how much time and energy you are able and willing to give to your goal.
  • Make sure you know how to access resources you need.

Do you have the following?

  • Previous experience doing these tasks or something similar.
  • Knowledge of where to go and what you need to learn to complete the project.

If not, do you know how to get the help you need?

R = Realistic. Is the scope of your goal reasonable? Are you in a position to make it enough of a priority to devote the required effort to achieve it?

T = Timely. Decide on an overall length of time to put toward your goal.

  • How long will it take to achieve this goal?
  • Use the format “from this date, until this date” so you have a firm time frame for beginning and ending.
  • Experiment to test if you are under- or over-estimating the time it takes to reach milestones along the way to completion.

An example goal might be: Today I will spend 15 minutes decluttering my front entryway. This is a priority so I can have my friends over for a visit next weekend to celebrate my birthday.

If, after my first 15-minute decluttering period I feel great for another 15-minute decluttering period, I will go ahead. But if I do, then I must commit to that 2nd 15-minute decluttering period, and complete it, but no more. Gauge how much steam you have in your tank. When you have 20 minutes of energy, don’t take on a 2-hour job and feel like a failure when you can’t complete it well enough to be satisfied.

This method will help you to make a conscious plan you can commit to, and then carry out that plan. If you make it drudge, you will not return to the work the next day. Learn to estimate better what a task will take and only commit what you have available. Keep your word to yourself and don’t set yourself up for failure.

Pixabay free image
Source: Pixabay free image

Types of Goals

There’s more to life than decluttering goals. We recommend that clients make three goals and practice them each day.

Goal 1 relates to the work necessary to declutter a hoarding situation like de-cluttering, sorting, and deciding what to do with items. A reality of everyone’s life is that for some part of each day we all need to maintain our own health and well-being in our environment.

Example: Each day, I will...

  • Work on a specific area; and
  • Sort using the 1-10 scaling process and permanent place system (described in our next post)

Remember: Starting is the hardest part. Do the thing that you LEAST want to do FIRST and get it out of the way.

Goal 2 relates to increasing non-hoarding-related play, fun and joy.

At the same time as negative experiences are occurring, so are opportunities to experience joy, fun, have a laugh, and let our child side out to play. This is so important because these positives generate the fuel and energy we need to deal with the challenge that carrying out change in our lives demands of us. It also makes life worth living.

Example: For a specific period each day I will make a REAL effort to find the joy, opportunities for fun and play. I can start with something as ordinary as...

  • Reading a book or magazine, or playing a CD, and singing or dancing along.
  • Doing a puzzle.
  • Calling a friend.
  • Going for coffee.
  • Sitting in the park, closing my eyes, feeling the breeze, and breathing in the fresh air.

Goal 3 relates to reminding ourselves we are still growing, learning, developing human beings.

Is there something you used to do that you want to do again, or something you have always wanted to learn or try?

We may have let past interests go by the wayside while we beat ourselves up about how we are not doing what we “should” be doing. We deserve investing in our own uniqueness by giving a reasonable amount of time to what we would like to learn more about, improve, or always wanted to try.  We NEED reminders that we are growing, learning, developing human beings even though at this moment in time we feel stuck, and overwhelmed.

Example: I will...

  • Explore the possibilities of up-to-now unrealized dreams and ambitions. Watch out world, here I come!


Doran, George. 1981. “There’s a S.M.A.R.T. Way to Write Management’s Goals and Objectives.” Management Review 70 (11): 35-36