One of the most useful things I learned from a pretty useless job was how to set SMART goals. Smart stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant & Time Based, this may bring you back to middle school. Spring for me has always felt like a reset. I understand why we set goals in January but to me it feels like the worst time of year to do it. We typically have an incredibly busy holiday season trying to meet production goals and getting orders out as fast as we can and by the time the new years roles around, I am exhausted. I think that’s true for a lot of us, the holidays really are busy and the weather is kind of depressing, so I’ve found it much more realistic to set my resolutions in the spring!
Some of the biggest mistakes I think people make when trying to set goals is not having a specific goal and not giving yourself a time period. When you’re setting a goal it’s really easy to default to something generic, which is a good place to start but then you need to make a plan. If you want to get more fit, break it down, what does that mean, how will you know if you accomplished it? For me in this past season that meant setting a goal of doing intense exercise 3x a week for 12 weeks at a time. Maybe for you that means setting a weightlifting goal, or timing yourself on a run and checking in every couple of months. Whatever it is the more specific you make it the more likely you are to achieve it (within reason obviously).
Another common mistake people make is not giving yourself a time frame. I like to break down my goals by quarters because that’s how my life flows. Be realistic about how much time you actually have to dedicate towards your goals. My goals in Q4 look a lot different than my goals in Q2. I just have more free time during the spring. I like to think of the last quarter as my time to maintain and not really add anything new. During the spring is when I set harder to achieve goals, because I know I have the time. It’s okay if not every season look the same. Sometimes I think we get the idea that we don’t have enough time, I realized I was spending a lot of time at the end of the day just watching TV..maybe you can relate? I started going to cycle classes after work and I realized I actually had a lot more time in the evenings then I thought.
Another reason why I like to set goals for 12 weeks at a time is that it’s long enough to be challenging, but short enough that you can see the end. Also, if I’m being honest, I’ve heard a lot of conflicting advice on how long it takes to build a habit. I’ve heard anywhere from 6-12 weeks, so I figure I’m safe if I set my goals for 12 weeks. I’ve also found it takes the pressure off, if we’re away for a week or if I’m sick it’s not like my entire goal is ruined, I can jump in where I left off and easily make up a couple days.
It’s important to remember that not all goals have to be performance based. You can also set goals for enjoyment. A good friend of mine started a blog as her way to keep her accountable to all of the projects she wanted to try. This blog post is a goal of mine. I do a lot of admin work and it gets really exhausting, so making myself have a creative outlet alleviates a lot of pressure and let’s me do something I enjoy. It’s okay to set a goal to practice art, write more or take more pictures. I think a lot of goal setting is just simply deciding how you want to spend your time.
Life is busy and time can easily slip away from us if we’re not being intentional about how we spend it. I think it’s important to set goals because they help us become who we want to be. It allows you to take control and shape your situation. There’s a lot of things in life you can’t control, but I’ve found it really comforting to have goals and plans of my own to offset what sometimes feels like absolute chaos.
Also, let’s be honest, sometimes it’s nice to have something to win at.