Experts claim that you are most likely to achieve your goals if you follow the mnemonic S.M.A.R.T., meaning that goals should be Specific, Measurable, Assignable, Realistic, and Time-Related. For example, one of my goals this year is to write more. If I followed S.M.A.R.T., I should plan to write 500 words (specific and measurable) five days a week (time-related). In theory, this clear outline will help me revitalized my long-neglected blog and even write a book.
I know many people are successful following this style of goals. I am not. Once I claim something this specific as my goal, I immediately rebel against it. I like planning, but I hate feeling constrained by the plans I make. (Perhaps this is the P in my INFP Myers Briggs Personality.) Case in point: Meal planning. Almost every week, I sit down with my schedule and make a list of meals for that week. Then, on the day I scheduled stir fry, I realize that I don’t really want to eat Asian, but I’m craving an Italian dish, which uses almost the same ingredients. Instead of writing a detailed meal plan, I write a handful of meals that I can make with the ingredients I have on hand. This loose structure provides me with just enough information to produce a good meal in a short time. I ignore anything more structured, and I flounder without some guidance.
As I look ahead to the following year, I have tried to create a list of loosely-structured goals, just as I do meals. Perhaps this simplified outlook will help me accomplish these goals.
Here are a few of my goals for the following year:
1. Write more. Write for this blog. Record funny stories about my children in their journals. Finish a fiction book.
2. Move daily. I recently discovered Fitness Blender and have been enjoying their free workout videos. On warmer days, I bundle up the boys and stroll or jog to the local playground. I don’t like to punish myself in exercise, so finding simple, enjoyable ways to move is important to keeping me motivated.
3. Enjoy the company of my children. This should be the easiest goal on my list, but some days it is the hardest thing I do. For me, one component of truly enjoying my children is sacrificing what I want to do — surf the web, check email, or finish a household chore — and instead playing with my little ones. Laundry can wait.
4. Grow in my faith by practicing the physical disciplines of my faith, such as praying aloud on my knees. I am amazed at how much more intentionally and thoughtful my prayers are when I purposely involve my body. I also would like to begin periodically fasting by abstaining from one meal or from a delicacy such as dessert.
5. Unplug more often. I have already begun taming my Internet use, and I have realized that I’m more engaged in life around me when I’m away from electronics. I’d like to play more games with my husband and watch fewer movies. Write my thoughts on paper rather than on a screen. “Hang-up” my phone by leaving it in the other room.
What are your goals for the new year? Have you tried any system like S.M.A.R.T. to achieve your goals?