Now that the kids are back in school, that long awaited summer vacation is a distant memory, and fall settles on you like a blanket, what are you going to do with your time?
There are plenty of things to fill your time- good things, like work and volunteering and soccer games and PTA meetings. But good things can often be the enemy of the best things.
This post is dedicated to YOU, for YOU and to help YOU plan your best year yet. You must prioritize dreams, plans, and time for yourself, because, Lord knows, ain’t nobody gonna do it for ya!
As you think about how you are going to spend the rest of 2014, keep these SMART goal setting tips in mind. What do you want to do? Where do you want to go? What do you want to experience, learn, discover, create?
Here are some ideas. I want to finish the book I’m working on by Thanksgiving. A friend wants to run a different 5k every month for a year. My mom wants to make each grandchild a baby blanket for their first child. My husband wants to get on an exercise plan. Another friend wants to pay down her debt. A client wants to get certified in exercise science. Another client wants to refinish her grandmother’s antique furniture.
The bigger the goal, the more planning it takes. Let this template help you set Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-Bound goals for yourself.
Specific: A general goal is nothing more than a wish. Specifically naming your goal will give you a much better chance of actualizing it. The bible says, “The desires of good people lead straight to the best, but wicked ambition ends in angry frustration.” Proverbs11:24
A general or non-specific goal like “I want to work out more” or “I want to be healthier” has little chance to actually change your behaviors. To determine your goal specifically, try answering the five W questions:
• Who is involved?
• What do I want to accomplish?
• Where will I be working on this goal?
• When will I be working on this goal? Schedule it. If goal-oriented behaviors are not scheduled, they will not happen.
• Why am I doing this? What are the benefits, rewards and purpose of me accomplishing this goal? You need to keep the “WHY” with you all the time- it is the deeply abiding motivation that gets you through the grind of work.
Measurable: Your goal needs to be measured and measurable along the way. Establish concrete criteria for measuring progress. To determine your progress ask questions like, How much? And How will I know when I get there? When you measure your progress, you stay on track, reach your target dates, and experience the exhilaration of achievement that spurs you on to continued effort required to reach your goal. The running plan
Attainable: this is where I like to name my threats. What are the things that will get you off course? Here are some common ones; fear of failure, lack of financial investment, lack of time investment, lack of support, distractions, and insecurities. You may be tempted to use your time and money for others sayings instead of your goal. You may be tempted to settle for the good, instead of reaching the best. Recognize the threats that will keep you from accomplishing your goals, and plan for them. That way, when your success is threatened- and it will be- you are ready for it.
Realistic- Your goal can’t be a fantasy, it has to be realistic. In order for your goal to meet the realistic criteria, it must be something that you are both willing and able to work toward. There are some people who audition for American Idol who should keep their singing to shower performances only. They simply aren’t able to carry a tune. There are some of us will conflicting goals- for me to be the kind of mother I want to be, I just won’t be able to follow a robust speaking schedule. Reality is your friend, don’t resent it, embrace it.
Now, a goal can be both huge and realistic; you will be able to determine what reality is to you. How much time, money and energy are you able to pour into this goal and stay keeping with your values. Remember your values and priorities- which priorities can you re-arrange or set aside for a season.
A high goal is frequently easier to reach than a low one because a low goal exerts low motivational force. Some of the hardest jobs you ever accomplished actually seem easy simply because they were a labor of love.
Time-bound A goal should be grounded within a time frame. With no time frame tied to it there’s no sense of urgency. If you want to lose 10 lbs, when do you want to lose it by? “Someday” won’t work. But if you anchor it within a timeframe, “by May 1st”, then you’ve set your unconscious mind into motion to begin working on the goal.
Your goal is probably realistic if you truly believe that it can be accomplished. Additional ways to know if your goal is realistic is to determine if you have accomplished anything similar in the past or ask yourself what conditions would have to exist to accomplish this goal.
E xpress Express your goal to others. Tell other people what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. When you tell other people your dream, your desire and your why, you have the opportunity to inspire them to join you. When you see their interest, you become more and more motivated. When I tell people what I do, I always try to mention the why. It keeps me centered and focused. I know what you’re thinking, “What if I don’t follow through, and I’ve told all these people about my goal?” We could What-If ourselves to death. The truth is, that when you give your dreams a voice, they are much more likely to take root. Just like God in the beginning of time, you have the power to speak them into existence.
Support: You are going to need support to reach your goals. God has not designed you to be able to accomplish your goals on your own. He has designed you to be interdependent with other people. When my book was a dream in my head and thousands of words in my computer, I joined a writers group. I went to three different writers conferences in three different states. I went to monthly meetings in my Christian writers association. I worked closely with an editor for advice. All these people and relationships and learning experiences worked together until I had a finished product. I couldn’t have done it had I not heard other people tell me their stories, other people encourage me to keep going. The bible says, “Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do.” Philipians 3:17 Limit your time with the people who scoff at your progress or who cannot share in your dream.
Take Time to Celebrate: When you arrive at a finished goal, make sure you memorialize it. Take time along the way to celebrate the small and the big successes. Give thanks for what God has done. After the Isrealites were lead to the promised land, God reminded them to take the time to celebrate. The bible says, “So, summing up: On the fifteenth day of the seventh month, after you have brought your crops in from your fields, celebrate the Feast of God for seven days. The first day is a complete rest and the eighth day is a complete rest. On the first day, pick the best fruit from the best trees; take fronds of palm trees and branches of leafy trees and from willows by the brook and celebrate in the presence of your God for seven days—yes, for seven full days celebrate it as a festival to God.” God is serious about taking the time to recognize the miracles that have taken place to bring you where you are.
Beware of the Double barreled sling shot- this is the weapon that the enemy loves to use the most in devouring Christian motivation, especially when we are reaching for godly goals.
1st Peter 5:8-11 says “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings – but after you have suffered a little while, God will restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”
Your goals are important, not only to yourself, but to the people around you and to God! He put the desires in your heart, and He will help you accomplish your task. Drop me a note and let me know how it’s going! Good luck!