The Art of Setting Goals

Updated on February 3, 2018

January is days from ending and already the glitz and glam from that ball-dropping, party hats wearing, confetti throwing day of the year is fading from your mind like one of my husband's haircuts (that he gets every week FYI).

"#NewYearNewMe?" "What? I never said that. I don't know who that girl is, but she certainly isn't me." Statistically, 80% of people have already given up on their resolutions by February and the binge-watching, wine-sipping, chocolate eating days are dominating the Pre-Valentine's Day I'm Single day blues.

I get it. I am in a rut too. Back in early 2017, I was motivated like no one's business.

  • Goal 1: Run a half marathon. Trained for and ran by March. Check
  • Goal 2: Read 15 books. Umm try 32. Check.
  • Goal 3: Write 4 blogs. Puhlease. Child's play. I started this Hubpage and ended up with over 10. Check.
  • Goal 4: Read the Daily Catholic Readings. And checkmate.

Now, flash forward to present time, and I have had the stomach bug, more stomach pains, the flu, a cold,Thyroid issues, and some stress. Needless to say, I am not feeling so Chris Traeger at the moment. But, you do not need to shrug your shoulders and say, "Oh well, I gave it a good run. 2019 will definitely be my year. I can feel it." Instead, you can follow some of these tips and get back in the game.

Stop being like this
Stop being like this
and more like this.
and more like this.

1.) Become a better version of yourself: After reading Matthew Kelly's Resisting Happiness back in the Epic Start of '17, I was spouting all kinds of life knowledge to anyone who would listen. It was back then when I realized that I need to set goals in order to become a better version of myself, not just a check off (My friend, Mindy, wrote a great blog on this topic). So instead of reading the daily scripture just to have a check mark placed next to it, I had to actually pray and live out these readings. Therefore, set goals that make you a better person and enjoy the process of reaching your goal. For example, reading books not only makes me happy but also provides a wealth of knowledge that I can pass on to others; thus, I become a better version of myself. Rather than, reading through your books and proclaiming, "There, I did it. Next," take the time after each book to jot it down in your Notes with a rating and a brief reflection. Being mindful of your goals will really help with continued success throughout the whole year.

2.) Break your goals into the different healths of your life: In my life, I have my physical health, my emotional health, my intellectual health, and my spiritual health. Some may wish to add more (My husband would probably throw in Financial Health). I set 1-2 goals for each of these areas in order to, you guessed it, become the best version of myself. If my physical health isn't taken care of, my emotional health cannot thrive. The same is true for almost everyone. Your healths cannot be balanced without the other. Let's address each one.

  • Spiritual - For me, this is the most important, and one that I feel as if I have a could handle on right now. Therefore, my goal this year is to truly read the Bible. I have already found a great plan online to help me with it. On the other hand, some may wish to start going to church again. Good. Start there.
  • Intellectual - There is always room for growth in this area, and it can be as simple as reading more to as challenging as signing up for Grad School. For me, I am taking the gigantic leap of book reading from last year to signing up for the National Boards this year. Yikes! Anytime we are learning, we are becoming better versions of ourselves.
  • Physical - This area includes the big three, SEE. Sleep, eating, and exercise, and does not always have to include losing weight or exercising more. Sleep is the most important. Start there. If all good in that aspect, move on to eating right. Still good. Tackle exercise. Pretty good in that area - challenge yourself. Not good at mindfulness? Set a goal to meditate. Exercise a lot? Sign up for a demanding race in a city you've never been. Don't stretch enough? Do that. That's one of mine. Make this goal fun!
  • Emotional - I am a big proponent of taking care of mental health. One of the ways, I believe, we do this is by laughing. I have set goals that I carry over yearly to make time in my day to laugh. Whether that be watching Ellen Degeneres, listening to Bobby Bones, or viewing old Jimmy Fallon clips, I take time to do these things. Other examples, include writing thank you letters once a month. Signing up to volunteer. Becoming involved in an important cause. Setting technology aside for a certain amount of time each day. Whatever it is, these goals should have a positive impact on your mind, feelings, and behavior.

3.) Be SMART: In teaching, we love acronyms, and SMART is one of them. As a special education teacher, I am constantly following the steps of SMART to write goals for my students. What is SMART? Let me tell you.

  • Specific - I compare this one to this example. When planning a trip, you don't just say that you're going to Europe. You'll usually figure out the country and then the cities you want to see as well as some sights and activities you want to visit/do. You get specific. Same with goal-making. For instance, exercise. Okay, so you want to exercise more. What kind of exercise? How? Where? Once those questions are answered, you should arrive at something along the lines as this. I want to run outside. Perfect. Once goals are more specific, you have a clear picture of what you should be doing, and there is little room for making exceptions or cheating the system.
  • Measurable - This is where grammar becomes important. Remember indefinite quantifiers? Those MANY pesky little words that we use ALL the time (see what I just did there?) get rid of them in your goals. They are not measurable. You want to run outside more? What does more look like? It isn't measurable. Goals need to be defined. Instead of I want to run outside more, change it to I want to run outside four times a week. That can be tracked on pen and paper. In fact, do that! You can see progress (or lack thereof) very clearly. Another example, being more positive can become every morning, I will list 5 things I am looking forward to in this day. Bingo! Measurable goals allow us to see our successes. We, Americans, love that. Get to it.
  • Attainable - We want to accomplish all of our goals. That's the point, duh. Therefore, do not make goals that are so out of reach! Never run before in your life? Don't make a goal to run a marathon on the first go at it (some exceptions to that). Start with 5K races. 10 goals on your list? No way. Too many. Unattainable goals lead to burnout and then automatically giving up the goal by February. Cycle repeated next year. Once the goal is attainable, it is more likely to be accomplished even if on some days there is failure. Remember we are talking about long-term success and becoming a better version of yourself here.
  • Relevant - Are you making goals way out in left field? Or maybe your goal is based on a current trend or a celebrity fad. Yeah, negative Ghost Rider. Stick with goals that fit into your lifestyle.
  • Timed - This is important. When do you want your goal to be signed, sealed, and delivered before it's time to change it? A year? A few months? Whatever it is, write it down. Por example (maybe I should have a goal to relearn French), I want to run four times a week for 10 weeks. Perfect, now there's a timeframe and most importantly a deadline. Yeah deadlines get changed every now and then, but they also help us stop procrastinating.

Now, go be SMART!

4.) Start now: January doesn't have a copyright on goals and resolutions. Remember this commercial with the endearing husband and the awfully sweaty wife who seemingly can't live another day without air conditioner (check yourself, girl!)? She chastises her SO for saying he would call yesterday when he didn't. He proclaims that he will call today. But homegirl is not having it. He will call now. "I will call now," he so triumphantly repeats. Same with goals. Start them now. There doesn't have to be a special time of the year to make goals. It doesn't have to be when the 1st falls on a Tuesday and there is a 90% chance of sunny weather and Mars is in retrograde and five people smile at you in one day and you catch nine out of ten green lights. No, you will start now. Repeat: "I'll start now."

5.) Discipline not motivation: Motivation gets you started. Discipline keeps you going. Motivation comes from others. Discipline comes from yourself. Motivation relies on other people. Discipline relies on yourself. Motivation is a feeling. Discipline is an art. Motivation gives you short-term success. Discipline gives you a lifetime of greatness. Become disciplined.

Now, that you know how to set goals take the time today to write some down. Remember patience. Failure will happen, but learn from it and try again. Happy goal-setting! Good luck out there.


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