Do you go to the supermarket without a shopping list and hope that you will spot items you need as you wander up and down the aisles? This may be fine for those who shop everyday as items forgotten one day may be purchased the next. Most of us, however, don’t have this luxury and find preparing a list beforehand makes for more effective and less stressful trips to the supermarket. The same is true of goal setting!
Taking the time to think through and write down goals at the beginning of the year is important because when we get clear in our minds what we want to achieve during the year we can plan our time and our next step on the way to reaching those goals. Reading our written goals every day helps to keep them in our thoughts and we become more purposeful in the actions we take. When faced with distractions or choices about activities, having our goals clearly written down and fore-front in our minds brings focus and helps us to stay on track.
Some of us have never received training in goal setting as our families have simply drifted through life in ‘survival mode’ living from day to day and not planning for the future. Some have wanted to set goals in the past but have felt overwhelmed by the tasks to be done, so have opted for no goals – after all you can’t fail to achieve a goal if you haven’t set one, can you? Others have set goals and fallen short of achieving them because distractions and urgent things have demanded attention preventing them from achieving their goals leaving them with feelings of regret or failure.
Whatever your circumstances, let me encourage you to set goals and to teach your children to set goals too.
You may have heard of the acronym ‘SMART’ for setting goals, however, Michael Hyatt, author, blogger, speaker, and the former chairman and CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers, suggests setting ‘SMARTER’ goals. Here is what each letter stands for:
S PECIFIC: not broad or general
M EASURABLE: includes an internal criteria by which progress can be evaluated
A CTIONABLE: begins with a verb (something you can do)
R ISKY: set high enough to demand your best effort
T IME-KEYED: assign dates but not the same date to each goal
E XCITING: not boring
R ELEVANT: in alignment with seasons of life, values, and each other
An example of a goal which is a SMARTER GOAL is:
I will ‘Walk every day at 6am for 30 minutes starting on 1st February for 70 days.’
This goal is:
SPECIFIC: because it says what I will do and when
MEASURABLE: because I can use a calendar to mark the days and a watch to ensure I walk for 30 minutes.
ACTIONABLE: ‘walk’ is a verb. It is something I will do.
RISKY: for me to be disciplined enough to do this every day even when I feel tired or have other things to do will demand my best effort.
TIME-KEYED: I will do this for 70 days which is a set time.
EXCITING: because at 6am the air is fresh and clean and I know the walk will give me more energy and clear my mind for the rest of the day.
RELEVANT: because I want my body and mind to be fit and healthy.
See the video by Michael Hyatt and Stu McLaren on Goal Setting For Beginners here. I’m encouraging the students who attend my tutoring centre to set their own SMARTER goals and look forward to seeing them achieve them. Has goal setting worked for you in the past? How might setting SMARTER goals help you to achieve them?