Since this is near the beginning of a new year I thought I would share an acronym we learned in a staff meeting recently. It is an easy way to remember effective goal setting.
S.M.A.R.T – and we all want to be considered smart.
According to our pastor Tom, when it comes to a goal you are wanting to achieve is it:
- Strategic — (Does this goal clearly connect with what God has assigned me to do?)
- Measurable — (Does this goal have a number attached to it?)
- Actionable — (Does this goal have a clear action I must take?)
- Realistic — (Is this goal grounded in reality?)
- Timed — (Does this goal have a clear deadline?)
Which one of these points is hardest for you?
I don’t know about you, but the hardest step for me is the last. Even the thought of having to set a hard deadline on a goal gives me a measure of anxiety. I can become a master of excuses in order to avoid having to exercise the required amount of self-discipline to meet the target date. I was painfully aware of this as I walked around the outside of our house with a contractor this morning. I had set a date to have some work done to our house by the end of last year. But here it is January and I am just getting started. And the truth is, I can come up with no good excuse.
If my goal is good (and in my case it is) I remind myself that giving up is not an option. Healthy self-reflection and a measure of grace helps me to process and reset my missed deadline. Instead of shaming myself, I encourage myself to positive action.
Is being realistic hard for you? Do you tend to overestimate your capabilities or resources? Unrealistic goals produce frustration and discouragement. You can begin to doubt yourself and others may lose trust for you as well if you are frequently falling short. It is usually smart to under-promise and over-deliver.
It’s easy to imagine this concept being applied to career or work goals, but how about to relational goals? Is there a growth goal that you have been thinking about that would produce a closer or healthier relationship? Or have you developed bad habits with people that you would want, or need to change? Can you articulate a relationship goal that encompasses this whole concept in one or two sentences?
For example: “Since God wants me to be patient and kind (strategic), I will completely eliminate my angry outbursts (measurable) by physically withdrawing from conflicts (actionable) so that my family can look forward to a peaceful vacation this summer (realistic and timed).”
Why don’t you give it a try in some area of your life and see what you can come up with.