We are quickly approaching that time of year. That time when we get super ambitious and idealistic about the upcoming year, and then set unrealistic goals to match our misconceptions of ourselves and the year.
For a season, I just threw my hands in the air and said ‘screw it’. Why set goals when I had no anticipation of going through with them? Am I not being more real by just not setting any at all? Maybe so, but I don’t foster much personal growth.
In my 9-5 job, I manage people. And I’ve learned that goals I set for my employees have to meet a certain set of parameters in order to set them up for success. Otherwise, it’s unfair for them as they try to achieve it and unfair to me as I hold them to it. I figure I owe it to myself to be fair as I set my own goals, so I’d abide by the same rules!
The parameters are found in the acronym SMART. Our goals should be:
Specific– None of this generic “be nicer to my kids” crap. Be specific about how this should look, what would be a win for you.
Measurable– I’ve heard it said that you can’t manage what you can’t measure. How can you know if you’ve met your goal or not, if you don’t have a way to measure the results?
Achievable– Know yourself well enough to know what is practical. Yes, push yourself, but don’t decide you want to run a marathon in 2 months when you don’t even own running shoes. Maybe try a 5k first.
Realistic– Think through your time, resources, family schedules, and even preferences. Make sure that your goals realistically fit into the life you already live.
Timely– Don’t make everything ‘come due’ in December 2022. Decide at what point in the year you want to be a certain point in the process. This may mean setting some mini-goals throughout the year, maybe quarterly goals to get you to the annual goal.
With these parameters in mind, I set goals last year in four categories. They aren’t magic categories….they were just areas of focus for me. Spiritual life, personal life, family life, and work life.
As I think forward to 2022, I want to look back at what went well and what didn’t last year. I want to evaluate if the issue was the way I set the goal or my own discipline in achieving it. Here’s a couple that stood out to me.
In my work life, I knew that I wanted to be more organized with my time. More specifically, I wanted to keep the calendar appointments I set. I also wanted to give realistic completion timeframes to my co-workers and meet them. This isn’t totally measurable, but I can tell that I did improve in this area. 2021 has been a nutty year at work, and my schedule has been more scattered, but I’m still able to accomplish what needs to get done without a ton of overtime because of these changes.
In my family life, I wanted to improve communication with my husband, go deeper in our knowledge of each other. This was going to be achieved by sitting down together and eating at the table without the TV at least once a week. I did not succeed in this one. Big Bang Theory is more often our dinner companion instead of deep conversation. So this one is going on the list again this year, with a little bit more accountability.
In my personal life, I wanted to grow in two areas- fitness and writing. I wanted to run a 10k over the summer. This one didn’t happen either. But I have already signed up for a 10 miler in March and have a training plan in place, so I’m committed for 2022!
As for my writing, I wanted to expand an idea I had for a custom planner. I worked on this, but in the process realized that there were a lot of other people out there doing this well already, and I didn’t want to go down this road. So I don’t call this a failure, just a clarification of focus. And I have some ideas for 2022 that I’m more inspired and passionate about. Hopefully I’ll get to share them with you soon!
Spiritually, I felt like I needed to grow in my understanding of theology. I made it through about one fifth of Grudem’s Systematic Theology. Fifty percent of it went over my head, but the other fifty percent made a big impact on my understanding of who God is and what that means for me and the rest of humanity. I’m studying the Bible in a ways I never have…and it’s really exciting!
And if I’m super honest with you guys, I’m most proud of the fact that that I’m able to memorialize my failure by writing it here. I don’t handle failure very well, let it take a much bigger mental toll than it should. But for the first time since I can remember, I feel like I’m looking at my 2021 performance somewhat objectively. I’m seeing that I missed the mark I set, but making an adjustment either to the goal or the approach. God is definitely a gracious God.
So this week, spend some time in prayer, seeking out where God would like to grow you in 2022. Think through areas of your life that you would like to see changes, and set some SMART goals around those areas. When in doubt, keep it simple. And go forward into 2022 with hope for change and grace to accomplish it.