Saturday, January 2, 2016

Setting SMART Goals

“A goal is not always meant to be reached,
it often serves simply as something to aim at.”
~ Bruce Lee

Another quote that I’ve always liked, which has a similar sentiment is this:  “Shoot for the moon and even if you miss, you’ll still be among the stars.” Both are true. However, the topic of this post is a different truth – that setting a goal is more than just deciding to do something.

If you’re going to set a goal, be SMART about it:  be Specifc, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. This has become a common acronym for goal-setting, but let’s take a few minutes to really analyze what each component entails. First, we’ll turn to a favorite resource of mine – the dictionary.

specific:  having a special appreciation, bearing, or reference; specifying, explicit, or definite; to state one’s specific purpose.

measurable:  capable of being measured

attainable:  capable of being attained

relevant:  bearing upon or connected with the matter in hand; pertinent

time-bound:  bound by time (this one wasn’t in the dictionary)

Now we’ll circle back to setting goals. First of all, when you decide on a goal, be specific. Right down exactly what you hope to accomplish in explicit terms. Use details. Try different ways of explaining and expressing your thoughts and then choose one, the most precise, and that will be your starting point.

Next, to make sure your goal is measurable and attainable, create for yourself a series of steps you will follow to reach the goal. Then, spend some time examining the relevance of your goal to your life. Does it lead to positive changes? Will it help you grow, or benefit someone close to you?

Finally, it’s very important to put the steps on a timeline. There are different types of goals – short-term and long-term. It won’t be helpful to try reaching a long-term goal in a short period of time, so be reasonable when setting dates and times for each step. And don’t forget to be flexible!

Friday, January 1, 2016

Reflecting on a Realization

I had the privilege of spending about 10 days over Christmas in Ketchikan, Alaska (more on that in future posts), and at the Sunday night service at Gateway Baptist Church, I had a realization about 2015.

It happened like this:  Pastor John asked us to share something about our year, some positive reflections, and as I listened to other stories I suddenly realized that my year was indeed a good one. I hadn’t thought about it being a bad year; I hadn’t really thought about it at all in fact, until that moment. Then my Aunt Becky said she was thankful that I had been able to visit and it hit me – all of the trials and difficult changes and uncertainty I faced last year made it possible for me to take that trip.

It was largely a financial issue - I took a leave of absence from my job, in January, to complete my student teaching, which meant I received a paycheck at the end of January, and some financial aid in February, and then almost nothing came in until the end of September. I lived on almost $0 for that last month, but I made it; God always provided a way and a means, sometimes at the last minute, or in a very unexpected way. Having given up my apartment, and with it the need to pay the amount of rent I owed for four years, I no longer had to pay out the same amount, so when I started getting paychecks again I had a little more money, and I was able to purchase a ticket on my own. That along with the tremendous growth over the past few years, aided greatly by taking Adderall, I was able to travel and visit with very little anxiety, and actually enjoyed myself most of the time I was there, which is something I can’t usually say when on a trip.

I hope I can remember this realization the next time a trial comes up, or I enter a season of difficulty in some way; I also hope it doesn’t take me a whole year to be able to sit back and reflect on the many ways God blesses me and the varied means He uses to do it.