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A Note About Goals

I’m no expert; goodness knows I have made goals in the past that were never met.  This experience of making a list of goals and going public with it has forced me examine my goal-making abilities, so naturally I sought some extra help via the almighty Google. 

Right away, I found this article: http://topachievement.com/smart.html.  The strategy here is one that I soon realized is prominent online, so I can’t even truthfully attribute it to only one source.  It’s called the SMART strategy.  After I had created a first draft of my 31 goals, I revisited them to see if they were Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely.  Here’s my two cents on this strategy:

  • Specific – The goal needs to be focused in order to be achievable.  I had originally written that I wanted to “grow a better garden” as one of my goals, but what the heck does that even mean?  So I re-examined how I wanted to achieve a better garden and realized the key was keeping it well-fed and clean (last year’s cucumbers never stood a chance!).  Now my goal is to “weed and water garden every week day in spring/summer/fall.”  Maybe my little cucumber plants will survive this year!
  • Measurable – Measurements, or standards, are the only way to indicate success or failure.  My original goal of “maintain a blog” does not provide me with any real way of testing 3, 6 or 12 months from now whether the blog has actually been “maintained.”  Instead, I’ve made it my goal to “blog 2 times weekly,” and I can track that progress.
  • Attainable – I had to really think about this section initially because I was having a hard time differentiating Attainable from Realistic; then I realized the difference is inertia.  As the cliché goes, “if you believe it you can achieve it,” and I think that applies here; we all have an easier time believing we can achieve the smaller goals than we do the big, life-changing mega-goals.  So in addition to some tougher goals like “take swimming lessons,” I made a few smaller, simpler goals like “get my eyes checked,” and with any luck the inertia gathered from that first falling goal-pebble may just cause a goal-avalanche!
  • Realistic – Can I really accomplish that goal?  Putting fears and self-doubt aside, do I have the physical skills, the talents, the know-how to actually achieve it?  This section is the logic test; my goal to “pay off both lines of credit” is either financially doable or it isn’t, and I need to be honest with myself about that.  My husband and I agreed that we have the resources to make it work, so this is a realistic goal for us.
  • Timely – Set a deadline.  Just like in school, master procrastinator that I was, I sure managed to write some amazing essays the night before they were due!  If the essays hadn’t actually been due at any specific time, I doubt I would have written a thing.  We all need that ticking clock to spur us on and my goal clock is already ticking down to my 31st birthday!

Revising my goals to suit this strategy was a good experience, and I highly recommend it for any goal-setting you may choose to do!

On another note, my habit-changing goals, like “floss daily” or “take multivitamins daily,” are a work in progress.  These habits are obviously not already engrained, so they cannot be adopted immediately.  Instead, I’ll need to introduce these habits slowly so that I can form new habits.  In thinking about this, I remembered some great advice from TED Talks: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AdKUJxjn-R8.  If you’ve never watched a TED Talks, I highly recommend it.  In this video, BJ Fogg suggests that the best way to learn a new habit is to break it down into tiny habits and tack these tiny habits on to another already-ingrained habit; for example, “Every time I do A, I’ll do B right after.”  I’ve decided that every time I brush my teeth, I’ll floss right after.  Even if I start with only flossing 1 tooth a day, small victories are still victories, and if BJ Fogg is correct, eventually the tiny habits will grow into long-term change.  It’s an inspiring and enlightening talk that will take less than 20 minutes of your time.

I think with these strategies in mind, I’m well-placed to achieve my list of goals this year.  Have you set any goals recently?  Do the links I found inspire you to revisit your goal-setting process?


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